Writing to Support Health and Resilience

Expressive writing helps you understand yourself and make sense of life events.

Writing exercise

A writing exercise: An invitation to act to support your success and resilience and fine tune your Health and Mood.

There are benefits to be gained from writing about what happens in your day. People write a diary or even an occasional journal entry to help emotionally process the day, understand themselves and others more fully, accept what has been and gone, problem-solve a way forward and record both the mundane and the important in their lives. As you write a personal narrative a record of your experience is generated.  This is a great way to get to know and build on your UNIQUENESS.

Writing is also a great way to focus on building a compassionate relationship with your ‘self’. To learn to be your own best friend, to treat yourself as a best friend would is a great gift to give yourself.

To hold compassion for your 'self' is not about ego or self-pity. Acting with self-compassion is more about being understanding of your intent and motivations, being self-accepting and acting with kindness toward your 'self'. That is, acting just as you would want a good friend to act toward you.

Ready to give this exercise a go?

  • Step 1: Choose a time and place that provides some quiet time when you won’t be easily disturbed.
  • Step 2: Choose how you will write. Write in longhand or on a computer. Either is okay.
  • Step 3: Write for only 15 -20 minutes (not more) for 3 to 7 consecutive days as a trial. Write without censoring. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar.
  • Step 4: You choose the topics you write about. If you run out of things to write about just keep writing on the same topics. You will find what you write will change a little with each refocus.
  • Step 5: Try not to judge what you write about or how you write it.
  • Step 6: Stop writing when you have been writing for a maximum of 20 minutes.
  • Step 7: Give yourself a few minutes more to be with yourself and observe what feeling or feelings you are left with. Remember that feelings are like friends. They come and visit and then go. Most strong feelings, positive or challenging will go within a few minutes or a few hours at most.


Want to read more about the benefits of writing for health?

Contacts for support

Writing might make you more aware of when you are not compassionate with your ‘self’.

If you notice that you find it difficult to hold compassion for yourself, or if you find that you are full of self-criticism or self-blame, it is recommended that you talk to someone about strategies to be more self-compassionate and less negatively self-critical and judgemental.  

Talk to someone in confidence by contacting any of the UNSW Student Life teams.

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