4 Writing Exercises to Help Maintain Mental Health

by Staff & Contributors

Writing is a great tool for sharing a secret, expressing emotions, or remembering something important. That’s why journaling has remained popular for many years. And if you know some exercises, you can maintain your mental health with this simple habit.

A List of Things You Appreciate

In the pursuit of success and achievement, we forget how important it is to appreciate and be grateful for what we have. This exercise helps us find those things, learn to be happy with what we have, and be a little happier every day.

Write a list of at least 30 things you are grateful for. These can be household and familiar things, like a dishwasher that makes life easier, or your favorite coffee in your nightstand. Pay attention to the important people in your life, too: parents, friends, a partner, good co-workers. Don’t limit yourself to what you think is valuable, even if you think it might seem silly from the outside. No one will see your list but you.

Focus on the feelings you feel that make you smile. For example, you feel a rush of kindness when you see children in the street, get excited while trying online gaming, or feel love when you hug a loved one.

You can make it a daily practice: write down three or five things you are grateful for or that make you feel better. This practice helps you fight the negative outlook on life and train yourself to focus on the positive.


Fictional Storytelling

This technique is suitable for those who want to let go of the past, help themselves through a childhood trauma or look at some life situation, mentally distancing themselves from it.

It’s easy to do. Pick a life situation you’d like to deal with, and describe it as if you were observing it from the outside. You can change the main character, choose a different appearance, age, or other important features from your own.

Such an exercise will give you a chance to distance yourself from the situation, to see it from the other side, and to practice empathy for yourself. It will also help you to better understand the actions and reactions of the people who were involved in the situation, and to forgive them.


Learn Free Writing

Free writing is an exercise in finding solutions to problems or experiencing feelings. It was invented by writer Dorothy Brand in the early 20th century.

The goal is not to create a literary work, but to let the thoughts flow without regard to the structure of the text, limitations, morality, or thoughts about the opinions of others. Write whatever comes to mind, without tearing off, for at least half an hour. Even if a shopping list or household chores come to mind, write them down, then slowly switch to the topic you set before.


Write a Letter to the Child You Once Were

The purpose of this exercise is to let off steam, live out your emotions, and forgive and love yourself.

Think back to the child you were. Describe its strengths, weaknesses, what made you happy and sad, what you regret. The more detailed you describe it, the better. If there are important dates, names, memorable little things for you, be sure to reflect them in your letter. Express your love, forgiveness for your failures and mistakes, and pride in the child you once were.

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