Stressed? Write it Away

by Nicole Meighan

Journaling II: Directed Exercises in JournalingStressed? Instead of gnawing on that pencil, put it to paper to help erase tension and increase self-esteem. Recent research suggests expressive writing can be a therapeutic, constructive way to cope with stress and reduce symptoms of depression. So the next time life feels a bit overwhelming, grab a pencil and follow its lead…

Researchers suggest keeping a daily journal can be a simple way to clear the mind of stress and combat anxiety. Jotting down emotions before a test has shown both and, in one study, even boosted exam performance in students. Expressive writing is also a reflective, meditative activity, which can promote creative expression and positive self-awareness. Plus, recording thoughts can be a private way to solve problems— without having to mind p’s and q’s (or a broken wrist after punching a wall).

Journaling has also been shown to encourage a positive body image and improve self-appreciation among young women. After all, it’s a great way to record awesome accomplishments (no modesty required).

Getting started on the path to writing away stress is easy. Find a favorite journal and a comfortable writing tool— anything from a pencil to that mac-and-cheese colored Crayola— and write off into the sunset. Studies indicate expressive writing might be especially effective leading up to a stressful situation, so start by scheduling regular paper sessions before that next big test (in the classroom or otherwise). Don’t know what to write? Try jotting down some positive affirmations or documenting daily events and feelings. Soon, the only writers’ block will be in the form of a hand cramp.


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