"People who engage in expressive writing report feeling happier and less negative than before writing. Similarly, reports of depressive symptoms, rumination, and general anxiety tend to drop in the weeks and months after writing about emotional upheavals."He found that college students who wrote coherent, organized and detailed accounts of traumatic events (big T and little T events) - for just 20 minutes over four days - were less likely to go to the student health center six months later as compared to the other writing groups.
--From "Writing to Heal" by James W. Pennebaker
Dr. Pennebaker's Basic Writing Assignment:
"Over the next four days, write about your deepest emotions and thoughts about the emotional upheaval that has been influencing your life the most. In your writing, really let go and explore the event and how it has affected you. You might tie this experience to your childhood, your relationship with your parents, people you have loved or love now, or even your career. Write continuously for 20 minutes."