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Write your anxieties away

October 13, 2017

About the Author

photo of Srini Pillay, MD

Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Srini Pillay, M.D. ( is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Part-Time) at Harvard Medical School. After graduating as the overall top medical student in South Africa, he completed his residency in psychiatry at McLean Hospital—Harvard’s largest freestanding … See Full Bio
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Carly Simon
November 12, 2017

I have heard that writing unselfciously with your nondominant hand is also a way of doing that which has been described. The change up in your circuitry is supposed to joggle and undo blocks.
Does anybody have any thoughts or information on this topic?

Hadia Pasha
October 23, 2017

I feel that expressive writing should be followed by an effort to engage in writing more positive realistic alternatives to the worrying thought. This will not only help reduce the anxious feelings but will also set a ground to develop healthier and more optimistic perspectives about worrying situations.

Quentin de la Bedoyere
October 21, 2017

Thinking of the potential value of keeping a diary of ‘events’ in cognitive behavioral therapy, I adapted this to overcome anxieties which prevented me from getting quickly to sleep. Very rapidly, and in no order, I wrote out everything in my mind about this. I censored nothing, and used pencil for speed. I wrote about a dozen one or two line statements. Magic! the problem disappeared overnight.

Months later I realized I had overlooked my habit of waking up in the early hours too anxious to get back to sleep. Why not use the same formula? Of course I did, and now I can slide back into sleep very easily.

Shauna Johnstone
October 21, 2017

I believe that prayer produces the same effect. If you offload your specific worries on to a higher power you are doing the same thing as in your expressive writing except doing it verbally. I am a sufferer of GAD, general anxiety disorder. I have found that prayer is more effective than Klonopin at halting a panic attack. Studies have shown the efficacy of prayer in healing of diseases, so for those who don’t like to write, such as me, as well as those who are spiritually minded, perhaps prayer should be considered.

Also, the bible says in Philippians 4:6-7New King James Version
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

bakri mohamed ahmed
October 20, 2017

this is an interesting research with a distinctive outcome that help make a good therapy for anxiety and worries which have clouds and burden over minds and thoughts.

Henry L Edwards
October 20, 2017

I love Pennebaker’s work and can wholeheartedly endorse expressive writing as an effective habit for ameliorating everyday anxieties.

Bob Rubin
October 21, 2017

I have been helped by Pennebaker’s work, as well as, prayer. Pennebaker and Smyth wrote “Opening Up by Writing It Down.” Timothy Keller has written the best book on prayer I have ever read entitled, “Prayer.” I recommend both books highly.

October 16, 2017

Expressive writing, comments that come from the heart, anything that burdens the writer or anything the writer feels exhilarating, frees the writer to concentrate on matters of the here and now and the mind feels unburdened.

This can be sheer poetry.

Afterwards there is a wonderful feeling, a weight lifted off your mind and you are free to open your mind to more joyful things to anticipate or contemplate.

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