Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
Whatever the circumstances, “this is a chance to apologize or show appreciation and ignite that unspoken conversation,” explains Hooper. “People say they feel so much better getting these thoughts and feelings out there."
There's a reason for that. Research shows that even the simple act of writing about certain events can have therapeutic benefits. A study at the University of Texas at Austin found, for example, that when college students who were vulnerable to depression were coached to write expressively about emotional issues, they had lower depression scores six months later than those who were told to write about more mundane matters. Another study at King’s College London in the U.K. found that writing about traumatic events enhanced wound healing.
One theory is that pouring your heart out onto paper (or onto a computer screen) can help you work through and make sense of a distressing experience, which can in turn improve physical and mental health, says James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. “There is fairly good evidence to suggest that coming to terms with an emotional upheaval helps people get through the experience,” says Pennebaker, who has done extensive research on the effects of expressive writing. “Merely translating your experiences into words can often be quite healthy. Often posting a heartfelt story can also be helpful to others.”
It's benefits like those that inspire Hooper to continue working on the site, and to be more expressive in writing and speaking in her own life. Because of this project, “I don’t want to forget to say ‘I love you’ or wait for someone else to apologize first,” she says. “I don’t want to miss those opportunities because I’ve learned how important those little moments really are.”