How Expressive Writing Can Help Fight Stress

Scientists at Michigan State University have found that writing down your feelings helps you release tension and cope with a difficult task. The study involved students who reported a constant feeling of anxiety. They performed a computer test that recorded the accuracy of their answers and the reaction time. Before that, about half of the subjects recorded their thoughts and emotions regarding the upcoming task for eight minutes. And the other half described the events of the past day.

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It turned out that the subjects from the first group, that is, those participants who used the method of expressive writing, found it easier to cope with the test.

As shown by the electroencephalogram, made in completing the task, they used fewer resources of the brain.

According to the scientists’ explanations, worried students, who poured their worries on paper, we’re able to free themselves from this burden and work more productively. And those who didn’t spend more brain resources to complete the task.

How Expressive Writing Can Help Fight Stress
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People who are constantly anxious are in multitasking mode as they complete a task and at the same time try to control and contain their anxiety. By putting anxious thoughts out of your mind and writing them down on paper, you free up cognitive resources. This will allow you to work more efficiently and complete the task at hand.


Hans Schroeder, lead study author, PhD student at Michigan State University in psychology, intern at McLean Psychiatric Hospital at Harvard Medical School

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It is believed that expressive writing helps to overcome the psychological trauma of the past. Research has shown that this technique is also useful when preparing for a challenging assignment.

Knowing that a stressful situation lies ahead, a person “burns out” in advance because of his experiences. This makes the mind work in a tense manner. By writing down your feelings and emotions, you free your mind for a difficult task. This makes it easier for you to deal with both stress and the task itself.

Adapted and translated by Wiki Avenue Staff

Sources: Life hacker