journal

Put Your Failures Down on Paper

The technique can help you succeed in the future.

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance. Sport and exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, and technology help you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In our daily news series, experts address some of the latest fitness research, nutrition, style, and health stories.


THE SCIENCE
Rather than sulking when you fail to hit a goal (like that long-sought-after marathon PR), writing about the experience can make you more likely to succeed next time, according to a new study in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

EXPERT INSIGHT
Putting the failure on paper prepares your body and brain to encounter a similar stressor in the future, says study author Brynne DiMenichi, a doctoral candidate in the Learning & Decision Making Lab at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Maybe you crashed at mile 20 because you didn’t fuel properly or you headed to the race without rain gear.
 
Those are important slip-ups to note, but the study participants didn’t just write about the logistics of their failures. They also wrote about how falling short made them feel

THE BOTTOM LINE

When you underperform, journaling about the facts and your emotional reactions can prime you for success, says DiMenichi. This type of expressive writing desensitizes you to the stress of the challenge, so the next time you step up to the starting line you'll be calmer and your body will release less cortisol.