In the midst of a global pandemic and economic turndown, many Americans are battling stress, depression, and despair. Since COVID-19 emerged, the number of adults who have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder has risen from 1 in 10 to 4 in 10. Many have also experienced difficulty sleeping, worsening chronic illnesses, and other negative health impacts due to worry over the coronavirus. The isolation and job losses that have come with social distancing and business closures have only exacerbated these problems.

At the same time, the supportive services intended to help people cope have been overwhelmed. Behavioral health organizations and private psychotherapists have seen an increase in demand for services, yet in many cases their capacity to handle that demand has diminished. Overburdened providers have been forced to turn away new patients or put them on waiting lists. We’re greatly in need of accessible, affordable, and autonomous ways for boosting our physical and mental health.

I’d like to suggest that some comfort may be as close as the tip of your pen and as inexpensive as a 99-cent notebook. Over the past few decades, researchers in psychology and medicine have discovered that expressive writing—which involves writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings related to traumatic events or emotional upheaval—has some pretty astounding benefits for both mind and body. Here are five research-backed ways that putting pen to paper and expressing yourself in your journal can benefit your wellbeing in the time of the coronavirus and beyond…

Continue reading the full Op-Ed in the Pasadena Weekly