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#WednesdayWisdom: Reduce Stress By Doing This Every Day

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Posted on December 05 2018

Studies have shown that writing your thoughts and feelings on paper can actually reduce stress and anxiety. The Harvard Health Publications have researched the benefits on “expressive writing,” showing the therapeutic effects of keeping a consistent journal.

According to the British journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, there are other positive effects to expressive writing that include:

  • Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor
  • Improved immune system functioning
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved lung function
  • Improved liver function
  • Improved mood/affect
  • Fewer days in the hospital
  • Feeling of greater psychological well-being
  • Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations
  • Fewer post-traumatic intrusion and avoidance symptoms

Behavioral effects include:

  • Reduced absenteeism from work
  • Quicker re-employment after job loss
  • Improved working memory
  • Improved sporting performance
  • Higher student GPA
  • Altered social and linguistic behavior

So why is expressive writing play an important role in improving overall health? The main reason is disclosure. Psychologists say that writing allow you to access thoughts and feelings you would otherwise “bottle up.” This makes you feel better in a lot of different ways, both physiologically, mentally, and emotionally.

Another reason is meaning. People write to find meaning in their life. Why do certain things happen? Writing about traumatic experiences (i.e. a breakup, getting fired, moving cities, etc.) allows you to find meaning in them. Reflecting on these types of events allows you to process what happened, while helping you learn and grow. Harvard Business School psychologist Francesca Gino and her colleagues recently published a paper about how taking 15 minutes out of your day to reflect at the end of your day makes you more effective. She says, “When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy.” This results in feeling more confident and a sense of achievement.

So, are you ready to begin? Try it out for a week. Challenge yourself to reflect for 15 minutes at the end of each day and notice the effects. Do you feel better? Does your mood change? Here are some tips from POPSUGAR Fitness to help get you started:

  1. Create a relaxing space: Clear your area of any clutter, and make sure there are no distractions (i.e. shut off the tv, silence your phone). You may light some candles if you wish.
  2. Don’t worry about what to write about: Don’t worry about spelling and grammar and just let your thoughts flow naturally. If you run out of things to say, focus on positive things.

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