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You may not think the 16th president of the United States has anything to do with the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. But you’d be wrong. 

The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting social isolation and economic downturn are sending our stress levels through the roof as a country. The United States was already experiencing a loneliness epidemic, but social distancing regulations have Americans feeling more alone than ever. 

Many of the usual outlets for relieving stress—such as group gatherings, movie theaters, restaurants, malls, and parks—have been severely restricted. Even spending time with friends may not be a practical alternative. 

So what would Abraham Lincoln have to say? Historians have noted that when Lincoln was stressed or upset at someone, he would often write an angry letter, but never sign or send it.

“Venting” in this way allowed the former president to release pent up emotion without affecting his relationships.

Studies have shown that expressive writing and journaling can lead to powerful health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure, an improved immune system, and better liver function. It has even been shown to reduce asthma symptoms. 

Perhaps you are cooped up alone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Or maybe you are living with one or more people but don’t feel comfortable sharing certain thoughts or feelings with them. Either way, expressive writing can be a way to safely and privately release your feelings in an unfiltered way and improve your mental and physical health. 

Abraham Lincoln would approve.