Sometimes, the simplest things can be beneficial to health – like writing. According to one expert, a pen, paper, and six minutes could be all it takes to improve your wellbeing and your day.
In the digital age, writing in a diary might seem like a throwback from another era. But this age-old ritual can be a useful way of getting through hard times. Alison Jones, a writing coach and editor, suggests writing freely for six minutes every day.
“Set a timer for six minutes, ask yourself a question, and write in response to that with a pen or pencil without stopping,” she recommends. The aim is to externalise all the emotions of the day, allowing you to take a step back and achieve greater clarity.
The expert advises writing on a pad or blank sheet of paper, rather than in your favourite notebook. The aim is not to write something pretty or perfect; the whole point is to embrace “messiness and honesty”.
This exercise should enable you to write freely without restraint or self-censorship. And even for computer fanatics, keyboards should be avoided. “This is about hand-brain connection; the last thing you need is a spell check correcting you or a notification popping up to distract you,” Jones notes.
This technique echoes the concept of journaling, which involves putting thoughts and feelings down on paper every day, at any time. This habit can become a mental refuge for those who need it, and an effective way to help people better understand their emotions.
Letting your subconscious do the talking has many virtues: not only can it bring order to your thoughts, it can also grant you a reprieve from negative emotions. For insomniacs, six minutes of daily writing could even bring some relief.
“If you can’t sleep, it can transform your anxiety into insights and action plans,” the writing coach points out. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, this little creative and exploratory bubble offers a moment of calm and quiet that can help you “reconnect with your breath and senses”.
Research has previously demonstrated that journaling may, among other things, help manage stress, reduce anxiety, and cope with depression.
It has also been shown that keeping a daily gratitude journal can improve sleep quality and mood, strengthen relationships with others, and reduce symptoms of physical pain.