Writing Can Heal: Effects of Self-Compassion Writing Among Hong Kong Chinese College Students

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Self-compassion has been repeatedly shown to be associated with mental and physical well-being. Recent studies showed that self-compassion writing can promote mental well-being, but this has not been examined among Chinese populations. The present study examined the effectiveness of self-compassion writing among Chinese students. One hundred and twelve university students were recruited and randomly assigned into 1 of the following 2 writing conditions: self-compassion writing and control writing. Participants were asked to write according to the instruction for 3 times in a week and report their levels of positive and negative affect immediately after writing. Self-reported depressive symptoms and physical symptoms, as well as self-compassion (i.e., self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness) and emotion regulation capacities (i.e., attention, clarity, and repair) were assessed at baseline and 2 follow-ups (1-month, 3-month). Results showed the self-compassion writing group reported more negative affect across the 3 days of writing than the control group. No significant group differences were found in depressive symptoms, self-compassion components, or emotion regulation capacities, but the self-compassion writing group reported a significant drop in physical symptoms at the 1- and 3-month follow-up whereas the control writing group reported no significant change in physical symptoms across time. The findings suggested that self-compassion writing may benefit physical health, but further studies should be conducted to examine its underlying mechanism.

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