Did you keep a journal or notebook as a child? Lots of kids do, even if just to scribble random thoughts or to draw little pictures of the world around them. For most of us, we simply stopped writing down our thoughts and dreams as we became busy with day-to-day life. It might be time to pick up a little notebook and a favourite pen and jot down your innermost thoughts.

What is expressive writing?

Expressive writing means putting your thoughts into the written word. You can use a computer or a traditional journal and pen. You don’t need to limit yourself to writing full, complete sentences. Short notes, thoughts, words, impressions, or even drawings and sketches count.

Expressive writing, also known as therapeutic writing, has been found to be beneficial for mental and physical health. A recent study examined participants who tried to alleviate their anxiety about speaking in front of people using expressive writing.

The scientists found that expressive writing did reduce anxiety in the test group using reappraisal. Reappraisal, in this case, meant that the participants imagined the immediate speaking engagement and wrote about it. While more work is needed to fully understand what is happening in our brains, expressive writing has the potential to decrease anxiety (Wang, 2015).

Self-reflecting through writing is good for you

Sometimes, it’s hard to look in the mirror and admit your faults. It can also be hard to admit when you are doing something right, or when you are doing a great job. You will probably find that you are a lot more honest with yourself on paper.

The words you write aren’t for anyone but you and you’ll be amazed at how freeing writing down your troubles, worries, and doubts can be. Self-reflection offers you the opportunity to really learn from something that has happened, and in turn, increase your own performance and knowledge.

You don’t have to limit your writing to yourself, though. Try to find opportunities to thank others, and do so in writing instead of a text or call. Consider even sending a note through the mail service. This personal touch goes a long way in showing people how much you appreciate them.

Understanding yourself is key
to finding the balance in your life

Finding the balance between work life, home life, and everything in between is challenging. Maintaining all aspects of your health can also be difficult when you are juggling so many different tasks. Slowing down and taking a moment to reflect on your day can reduce your anxiety and stress levels. Jotting down your notes and ideas and hopes and dreams is an opportunity for you to process all the aspects of your life.

The i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology can help you improve your performance as a leader in this Imagination Age. Being self-aware and understanding who you are, will help you discover your strengths and accentuate them. You can also build up your weaknesses and increase your mindfulness to train your brain to listen and learn from your inner thoughts.

So, grab a little journal. Get a pen in a wacky colour. Grab a seat in the grass under the tree and release your worries to paper.

Wang, F., Wang, C., Yin, Q., Wang, K., Li, D., Mao, M., Zhu, C., Huang, Y. (2015). Reappraisal writing relieves social anxiety and may be accompanied by changes in frontal alpha asymmetry. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1604. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01604

Originally posted on: 16 August 2017
Last updated on: 20 May 2024
Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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