VSL:SCIENCE // The two-minute plan for feeling better

Twenty years ago, University of Texas psychologist James Pennebaker concluded that students who wrote about their most meaningful personal experiences for 15 minutes a day several days in a row felt better, had healthier blood work, and got higher grades in school. But a new study from the University of Missouri shows that a few minutes of writing will also suffice.

Researchers asked 49 college students to take two minutes on two consecutive days and write about something they found to be emotionally significant. The participants registered immediate improvements in mood and performed better on standardized measures of physiological well-being. An extended inward look isn’t necessary, the study concludes; merely “broaching the topic on one day and briefly exploring it the next” is enough to put things in perspective.

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