Writing to Relieve Chronic Stress

Writing can contribute to the prevention of illness and reduce the anxiety associated with things that cause you stress. The following writing technique is different than keeping a daily diary, often called "journaling." The only rule is that you write continuously for 15 minutes. It looks simple to do, and it is. However, the effects are usually dramatic.

Writing Exercise

Take a sheet of paper and something to write with to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for 15 minutes.
  • Pick any issue that concerns you. You can write about things that have bothered you for years or something that occurred yesterday.
  • Write continuously for 15 minutes. If you run out of things to say, just repeat what you have already written.
  • Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or sentence structure. 
  • While writing, do not read what you have already written.
  • Don’t be concerned if you start crying while writing. It's common for this to happen.
  • When you finish, tear up what you have written and toss it out so that no one else can read what you wrote. This allows you to write about your most private issues - things that you can not share with anyone.
  • Write three to four times a week, if you find it helpful.

An Additional Writing Exercise

Each day, or whenever you wish, write about something for which you are grateful. It may be as few or as many words as you want. Then, whenever you're feeling "blue," read some of the things that you're grateful for to help lift your spirits.

Contact Us

For more information about UPMC's Healthy Lifestyle Program
  • Call 800-533-UPMC (8762)
  • E-mail Dr. Bruce Rabin,
    Director, Healthy Lifestyle Program

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