Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression may benefit from writing. In a way, writing can serve as a tool that provides insight into thought patterns, and may help us explore why we are feeling a certain way. Writer Christopher Bergland from Psychology Today explained expressive writing as, “writing freely about your deepest thoughts and innermost feelings with the understanding that it will never be read by anyone else”. In doing this, we can learn more about ourselves and relinquish some of those most worrisome thoughts.
A study conducted earlier this year by Schroder, Moran and Moser explored the therapeutic benefits of expressive writing in individuals who suffered from severe anxiety. The researchers held two groups, one which was asked to practice expressive writing and the other group which did not. They explained that error-related negativity (ERN) often occurs most in people with anxiety. The group that completed expressive writing found a reduction in ERN, meaning that expressive writing may serve to offset worries from active memory, helping those who suffer from anxiety.
Harvard Health expressed in 2011 the benefits of expressive writing as a flexible approach that may help people organize thoughts, express and regulate their emotions, relax, and more. Expressive writing is very popular because of its low cost – all you need is a pencil and paper. Engaging in this exercise means that it can be done practically at anytime, anywhere – and individuals can partake in it whenever they feel it will be helpful to them.
Researchers Baikie and Wilhelm from The Royal College of Psychiatrists identified in 2015 several long-term benefits of expressive writing: fewer stress-related visits to the hospital, improved immune-system functioning, improved lung functioning, fewer days in the hospital, improved mood, feeling of greater psychological well-being, reduced depressive symptoms, and more. Other long-term impacts could be fewer absenteeism from work, improved working memory, improve sport and grade performance, and more. Expressive writing can transform our patterns of thought and help us to learn more about ourselves.
Whether you suffer from anxiety or not, expressive writing could be very beneficial to you. The best way to know is to try it for several months. Get a piece of paper and a pen, and begin writing. Write about whatever you want – whatever is on your mind, and know that you are the only one reading this. Who knows – you may be able to work through some issues that you didn’t even realize were affecting you.
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