When talking about it doesn’t help
In turbulent economic times – and after a very long winter – how do you keep yourself going? Research suggests that ‘talking out’ your concerns does not always help and that suppressing negative thoughts can be just as bad for you. However, research also shows that ‘expressive writing’ can boost your well-being, reduce health problems and increase your happiness.
- If you are struggling to come to terms with a negative experience (a professional setback or even redundancy), try spending a few minutes each day writing a short account of it. Constructing a written narrative (which is naturally more coherent than a spoken narrative) helps people make sense of what has happened and move on more quickly.
- If you’re suffering from more generalised dissatisfaction, try spending a few minutes each week noting down five things for which you are grateful. Research shows that those who express gratitude in this way end up happier, more optimistic, healthier – and even exercise more.
- Alternatively, spend some time planning your best possible future. Research suggests that although visualising a successful future is unlikely to increase the chance of achieving your goals, it can make you significantly happier. Spend a few moments describing for yourself an ideal future which is realistic, but in which everything has gone as well as it possibly can. In research, this technique was shown to make participants significantly happier.
In summary, something as simple as writing a few notes during the course of the week can make a real difference to your sense of optimism and energy levels. (Research quoted in ‘59 seconds: Think a little, change a lot’ by Richard Wiseman.)