Psychologist James Pennebaker, in ground-breaking research, discovered that expressing what we think and feel about a trauma or a long-held secret has major life-altering benefits. The results with a variety of different populations showed that college kids improved their health, people with autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis had less joint pain, and that people with asthma had improved lung function. And the benefits lasted up to 6 months after this simple 4 day exercise. Reading some of Pennebaker’s original work may inspire you to test this out for yourself.
Exploration: You and Your Cells, Telling the Truth
You do not have to be suffering from a major trauma, hidden abuse or illness to discover how this simple strategy might benefit you. This is a time-driven 4 day ‘experiment.’ Commit to writing for four consecutive days—no more or less.
Take fifteen or twenty minutes each of the four days to write your thoughts and feelings about what is presently bothering you: your biggest stressor or hidden shame, or a lie or a secret you’ve withheld from everyone. Don’t write the facts about the story; rather, express your emotions about them. It’s not necessary to reread what you have written or show it to anyone. You can tear it up or bury it if you like. This is an exercise for you and your cells, an invitation to release.Writing for letting go.