Resiliency Through Writing

Flashback Friday: Building Resiliency Through Writing

Orginially published: December 1, 2019

In this episode, Dr. Alex Kaminsky meets with Dr. Stephanie Benjamin to discuss personal and medical journaling as an active means to stave burnout and build resiliency.


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Alexander Kaminsky, MD

University of California San Francisco – Fresno
EMRA*Cast Episodes


Stephanie Benjamin, MD

EMS/Disaster Fellow
Author: “Love, Sanity, or Medical School”

Hospital Affiliation: UC-San Diego


In this episode Dr. Kaminsky sits down with veteran journal writer, award winning author, lecturer and current EMS/disaster fellow Dr. Stephanie Benjamin to discuss tangible ways to combat burnout: beyond the buzzwords and by actively building resiliency via personal or medical journaling. Dr. Benjamin discusses the strong medical origins to journaling, her own path and experiences into writing, the evidence-based physical and mental benefits of writing and how residents can delve into combating burn-out in a meaningful and realistic way. What we do is HARD. What we see is difficult. We need outlets to cognitively offload and unpack. Journaling is one way to actively (or passively) practice mindfulness outside of meditation and yoga.

Key Resources / References:

  • Baikie K. A., Geerligs L., Wilhelm K. Expressive writing and positive writing for participants with mood disorders: An online randomized controlled trial. J Affect Disord. 2012; 136: 310–319. 10.1016/j.jad.2011.11.032
  • Baker JR, Moore SM. An opportunistic validation of studies on the psychosocial benefits of blogging. 2011; 10.1089/cyber.2010.0202. Epub 2010 Nov 3. PMID:21117978

Key Points:

  • Journaling has deep roots in medicine. From Queen Victoria’s personal physician, to modern day
  • Medical culture and education have deep roots in separating emotion from patient interactions and experiences. Journaling and having meaningful and purposeful reflection go against the way we are trained, even today.

How to Journal:

  • Step 1: There are no rules. This is for YOU, not public consumption
  • Step 2: Be HONEST with yourself. This is a time for reflection and cognitive off-loading. You’re human. Recognize your own success, experience and shortcomings.
  • Step 3: Avoid the existential questions at first. Start small, work your way up.
  • Step 4: Writer’s Block? Find a prompt. Answer a pointed question. Doodle. It doesn’t matter.

Remember, just a couple times per month is enough to reap the physical and psychologic benefits of journaling. Do it!

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