When you feel stressed or anxious, you might not want to talk about your feelings. And contrary to popular belief, that might be a good thing.
It doesn’t mean that you should leave them bottled up, either. New research is showing that one of the best ways to deal with stress and anxiety is to write down those thoughts and feelings.
The research from Michigan State University was recently published in the journal Psychophysiology. Researchers found that when participants wrote expressively about the stresses and anxieties they were feeling, their brains could run more efficiently than those who didn’t. This included people who chose to talk about their worries or use other coping mechanisms to help with stress.
It appears that writing about stress might create space in the brain so it is able to perform more effectively, thereby inhibiting some of the mental anguish and disrupted focus that stress can cause. Stress uses up your brain’s resources, so when more is added, or anxiety exists, the brain is forced to multitask. This is never a good thing.
Offloading your worries onto a pad can help you think about your stress and prepare you for the future. This exercise can also help clear up brain space so the symptoms of stress don’t hit as hard. Some of the mental impacts of stress include poor sleep, memory troubles, limited focus, and poor decision-making. It can also bump up the risk for a heart attack or stroke.
So, next time you’re feeling a little bit of added stress and anxiety, open up a journal. Jotting your thoughts down and giving them a little bit of consideration on the page might work better than other unhealthy stress relievers (like junk food) and inhibit some of stress’s crippling symptoms.
In addition to jotting down your worries, socializing, exercise, sleep, and a nutritious diet can all help fight back against the effects of stress.
Mohan Garikiparithi holds a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.