After four months of unemployment , not a single one of them had determined a new job. Something a little surprising dedicated them hope … and better results in their job hunting.
A diary .
In a study led by University of Texas researcher James W. Pennebaker, a group of the jobless professionals get in touch with their feelings and wrote about it, diary style. 20 minutes. Writing. Feelings. Repeat. Daily.
It’s what Pennebaker wanted to exam. Could this emotional writing practise reduce stress and help solve the problems these engineers were having?
“Listen, Frank. We’re going to write about our feelings in a diary. Just accept it.” Image by SDASM Repository/ Flickr.
In the group that got all up in their feelings and put them down on paper, more than 26% found a new job .
“So if i don’t address my feelings in an emotional periodical, I’m less likely to find my next job? Whoa.” More on this below. Image by Nasjonalbiblioteket/ Flickr.
The other engineers wrote about non-emotional stuff like period management, or they wrote nothing at all. Less than 5% of those in this group determined a job .
And as it turns out, emotionally expressive writing is useful for so much more than finding a job.
It can improve your health, your happiness, your goals, your love life … everything! And for those of you thinking, “Whatever diaries are dumb , ” try thinking of journaling or freewriting as PRODUCTIVE MEDITATION.
And we’re off …
Writing in a journal should be your ONLY New Year’s resolution this year. And I’ll demonstrate it to you.
Name a resolution, and we’ll keep it using you guessed it a writing practise! Let’s get started.
1. If your resolving is to be healthier:
All images by Lori White.
Journaling can help you with your immunity .
Ever heard of T lymphocytes? Me neither, until I learned that regular journaling can strengthen these important immune cells. More research, chronicled at PsychCentral, also has demonstrated that journaling can reduce symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
2. If your resolving is to be happier:
Emotional writing can heal mental and emotional wounds … after about 2 week .
I know I’ve been cheerleading for emotional journaling, but know this: the first 2 week will be rough. In one study, during the beginning of emotional writing, subjects get more depressed, and some of their blood pressures even increased!
Writing about trauma is uncomfortable in the short run, but after a brief period of time, the costs can disappear and the benefits emerge and they last.
As one participant acknowledged, “Although I have not talked with anyone about what I wrote, I was finally able to deal with it, work through the pain instead of trying to block it out. Now it doesn’t hurt to think about it.”
3. If your resolving is to lose weight:
Journaling helps process emotions, which are an often ignored obstacle to weight loss and healthy habits!
OK, first, you’re perfect the style you are. And second, long-term examines determined no relationship between only weight loss and health improvements. Weight loss doesn’t contribute to a healthier you, but healthy habits do! So perhaps think about solutions to form some healthier habits.
The emotional aspect of weight loss is overlooked, and journaling is proven to help with emotional processing.
From Dr. Diary, aka James W. Pennebaker:
“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health . … They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If the objective is first-year college students, their grades tend to go up. People will tell us months afterward that its been a very beneficial experience for them.”
4. If your resolving is to be less emphasized:
Pennebaker believes that writing about stress can help you come to terms with it .
Stress has physical symptoms too. So if you journal about stress and therefore reduce stress, you’ll also reduce physical symptoms of stress. Easy!
5. If your resolving is to heal that cut on your thumb from when you were slicing the holiday ham:
Journaling might just help heal physical wounds too .
Yes, truly. In a study in New Zealand, 72% of a group who’d done expressive writing after a biopsy were fully mended, versus 42% of a group who’d done no writing. Researchers guess the writing may have led to better sleep and reduced stress, and therefore … heal-ier wounds!
6. If your resolving is to get a new job:
Journaling can help you find a job faster, but not necessarily get more interviews .
It’s a quality-quantity thing.
An interesting tidbit on this from the study of the laid off technologist story at the very beginning of such articles:
“Interestingly, expressive writing didn’t land the engineers any more interviews. It simply increased the odds that they were hired when they did have an interview. “
And if you think the whole thing about the expressive journal-ers getting chores is a little too good to be true, it’s worth noting that the scientists who first did this study are in a position to replicate it many more periods.
7. If your resolving is to write more:
Journaling daily not only can help heal the emotional blocks of insecurity, perfectionism, and other fun demons … it can train you to simply write, censor-free, and to simply generally make things.
Emotional journaling, aka the concept of morning pages, is a basic tenet of a book titled “The Artist’s Way” which has sold millions of transcripts. Plus, it’s a book I like and I create things for a living!
8. If your resolving is to be a more creative soul:
Journaling can get your right brain involved .
Problem solving gets relegated to your analytical left brain most of the time, but sometimes analyzing a number of problems ain’t gonna cut it. That’s when it’s great to get your RIGHT brain involved. And one of the quickest ways to do that is through writing!
There’s even a theory, based on MRI imaging, that activating your brain and then resting it leads to more a-ha moments.
9. If your resolving is to be better at your job:
Plain ol’ emotional writing will make you miss less work and get better grades, but used to describe how your work is making a difference might make you better at the number of jobs !
A study of fundraising found that when people working in stressful fundraising chores journaled about how their job was making a difference for just a few days , it increased their hourly effort by 29% over the following two weeks.
Excuse me I have some deadlines coming up, so I’m gonna take 20 minutes now to write about how such articles is making a difference … hold on a sec .
So .. how?
Start journaling when “youre feeling” ready. Set a period. Stick to it .
20 minutes. Three pages. Whatever.
Get in your feelings .
Pennebaker’s research has shown that writing about traumatic events only improves health when people describe facts and feelings.
Throw in some gratitude and maybe a line or two about achieving future goals and dreamings and the difference you’re stimulate in life. Don’t be too strict.
Trust yourself! You know what’s inducing you feel better!
You’ll be in good company. George Washington, Virginia Woolf, Pablo Picasso, Richard Branson, and Mark Twain are just some of the members of the diary club.
Don’t worry about the writing being “good.” Writing is like dancing! We can all dance in our own style … and no one gets to tell you you’re dancing “wrong” because they’re not you.
It might sound pretty out there to be all “I’m writing in my diary now! ” but there’s nothing flighty or youthfully naive about decades of scientific research that show that something as simple( AND FREE !) as writing for 20 minutes per day can change their own lives.
Try it in 2016.
Resolutions are vexing: They make you feel bad, and they’re often just plain vexing to try to meet. I’m sharing this so that we can all be done with those obnoxious, dishonor, icky-feeling New Year’s resolutions .
All we need to do to get started on a better year according to research! is put a pen to paper. It’s free. It’s easy. And you deserve ALL that it can bring you in 2016.
Read more: www.upworthy.com