The Write Way

Expressing your feelings on paper is an effective way of processing your feelings. 

CHRIS ROUT/ALAMY

When you’re upset, sad, or stressed, the last thing you may feel like doing is writing your feelings down. But expressing your feelings on paper is an effective way of processing disappointment, sadness, and rejection. And when you’re able to process what’s bothering you, you start to feel better.

Dr. Cora Breuner practices adolescent medicine and pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington. “I see a lot of teenagers who are depressed, have chronic pain issues, or even eating disorders,” she tells Choices. “Teens have a lot on their minds, they’re extremely busy, and they’re dealing with special stressors.”

Writing It Out

Breuner advocates that teens write in journals. “I’m a firm believer in writing stuff down and writing it down in a journal,” she says. She encourages teens to start with the following four steps: Write something down, read to yourself what you’ve written, keep writing, and, if possible, share it with someone you trust.

Taking this approach allows you to get to the root of what is really bothering you. Say you start a journal entry by complaining about a teacher at school. But you keep on writing and you start writing about your parents’ divorce and how much it hurts you. “All of a sudden, it becomes clear that the issue isn’t the teacher, it’s the kid’s parents,” Breuner says. “I see this type of thing with the kids I work with all the time.”

Breuner says the point is to continue writing until you can “figure out what is actually wrong, so you can do something about it. It gives you control of the situation.”

Building Trust

If you’re able to share your journal entries with others, you build trust with them. And being able to trust others with your issues and secrets helps you deal with stress.

If you have skepticism about this, read the essay below. Yadirys Rosario, a middle-school student in New York City wrote it. Not only did Yadirys have the courage to write about a painful topic, her father dying before she was born, she also bravely shared it with others by entering it in last year’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy contest, created by Justin Tuck, defensive end for the New York Giants of the National Football League.

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