The following is a guest post from Leslie Anglesey, about how writing can help reduce stress in your life
Any major life experience brings with it a certain amount of stress. Even events that are perceived as positive ones, such as getting married, buying a house, having or adopting a child or getting a promotion, all carry with them a whole array of heightened emotions. Everyday life seems to have the capacity to bring us down with a constant bombardment of daily annoyances. This doesn’t count the bigger life stresses that we all deal with at some point, including issues of anger, betrayal, grief and abandonment. The answer to sorting them out can be found in an entirely low-tech manner – at the end of your pencil.
Writing Helps to Shape Thoughts
Part of the problem with stressful situations is that we jump on a destructive train of thought that doesn’t seem to have any particular direction. Unlike the real-life version, this train doesn’t run along a physical track. It can travel in circles, picking up speed as it goes. According to WriteMyEssay4Me experts, taking the time to write down the thoughts shines a light on these circles and helps to clarify the source of the stress.
When writing about a stressful event, a person is free to describe it in any way that makes sense to him or her. It may help to start by talking about the facts first. Once the framework is established, the way is clear to start looking at the chronology of events that have spun out from the initial one. Surface emotions associated with the event will come up next, and they can be expressed in words.
Express Yourself through Your Writing
After the surface emotions come up, deeper feelings will stir. These can also be written down as part of a writing therapy exercise. A person may not be able to give them a name until they are put on paper, which is why this form of expression can be so valuable.
The piece of paper is a neutral place to express emotions and share memories. It doesn’t judge or condemn the person who is sharing. Some people find writing in a journal to be quite therapeutic. They can “get it out” and no one ever needs to read what they have written.
This approach can also be used in a therapy session to help a client express his or her emotions more readily. A person may feel more comfortable with a piece of paper and a pen than speaking with a therapist. Some people hold back on expressing what they feel is their deepest, darkest secrets for fear of being judged or labeled in a negative manner. A person seeking treatment may not be able to realize that unless he or she is the therapist’s first client, the psychologist or counselor has likely heard similar accounts before and is not likely to be surprised or shocked by anything shared in a session.
Working Memory Increases through Writing
The act of writing something down has another benefit for clients: it helps them to process their life experiences more clearly. Teachers know that when students copy down work from a blackboard or an overhead projector, they are more likely to retain it. This strategy is commonly used in classrooms, and it is an effective one.
People who are trying to cope with stressful emotions can use a similar approach to dealing with them. Writing about the hurtful event and the emotions is a form of release. It helps to desensitize the writer. The burden of carrying around the stress from worry, anger, grief, pain, and loss no longer seems as heavy. It is shared with the paper.
Even though the circumstances in the writer’s life have not changed after the writer has put down his or her pen or pencil, the writer’s outlook is not the same. The act of storytelling serves to take some of the pressure off the stress and give the person a new perspective.
Lower Stress through Storytelling
The more a person writes, the easier it should be to deal with stress over time. Someone who makes a habit of journaling may be surprised to find what kinds of thoughts come up when he or she makes time to go to a quiet room to write. A writing therapy session is a different kind of experience, where the client knows that he or she will be writing during a set time. It may take some practice, but writing anything that that comes to mind during the session will be a starting point for learning how to reduce stress using this method.
Over time, a person can start writing down thoughts and feelings regularly as a way to get rid of stress. There will always be life events that will be pulling at us and causing distractions. This technique is readily available to anyone who wants to pick up pen and paper – and it’s an effective way to beat stress.
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