The sixth point builds on recent research into the power of kindness
Mann stresses that the benefits do not just come from the immediate lift as you write the entries; re-reading your previous entries can help you cope with difficult situations in the future too. Thanks to our ‘associative’ memory, a dark mood – caused by one bad event – may lead you to preferentially remember other sources of stress and unhappiness. Whenever that happens, leafing through the pages of your journal may help you to break out of that ruminative spiral. The sixth point builds on recent research into the power of kindness. Various studies have found that selfless acts not only increase the well-being of those around you, they consistently boost your own mood too. Spending a bit of money to help a stranger, for instance, makes you far happier than using the same cash to treat yourself, a finding that has been replicated in more than 130 countries. Focusing on those occasions should ensure you make the most of those warm feelings while also encouraging you to look for new opportunities the next day. (You can read more about this research in BBC Future’s archive story: Does it pay to be kind to strangers?) A 10-minute review of your day can’t work miracles, of course – and Mann stresses that anyone who suspects they may suffer from depression should still see their GP for professional medical care. But for those who generally feel ‘low’ and stressed, without severe clinical symptoms, this might just help put you back on the right path. If you find Mann’s approach interesting, you may also enjoy her counterintuitive research on boredom. In a series of experiments, she has found that short periods of tedium can bring great benefits.