Expressive Writing Could Alleviate Stress In People Who Worry Too Much

Lorenzo Tanos - Author
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Sep. 16 2017, Updated 12:21 p.m. ET

Not everyone has the time to launch their own personal blog or journal where they can rant and rave about what goes on in their daily lives. And not everyone has the patience to read through long social media posts that serve a similar purpose. But people who worry too much just might benefit from such forms of expressive writing, according to the findings of a new study from Michigan State University.

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In a statement quoted by the Economic Times, lead author and MSU doctoral student in psychology Hans Schroder said that people who worry too much are akin to those who multitask on a regular basis, as they try to focus on one thing, yet also try to hold back their worries at the same time. Expressive writing, however, could be useful in helping worriers vent out and feel less distracted in their day-to-day lives.

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“Our findings show that if you get these worries out of your head through expressive writing, those cognitive resources are freed up to work toward the task you’re completing and you become more efficient.”

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The study involved a group of college students who were identified as “chronically anxious,” and asked to complete a so-called “flanker task” on a computer. This test gauged the accuracy of the students’ responses and their reaction times, but prior to that, one group of students was first asked to write about their “deepest thoughts and feelings” about the task for eight minutes. The second, or control group was asked to write about the things they did on the day before the test.

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