Feelings of stress and anxiety, when expressed on a sheet of paper can calm the brain.
Writing can also help you perform the stress-inducing task more efficiently, suggests a new study.
The team of researchers explained that excess worrying takes up a lot of cognitive resources. While concentrating in completing a designated task, it may be difficult to monitor and suppress the worries about health or the family can take a toll on productivity and health.
‘Taking away the worries that run in the mind and putting them down on a piece paper is a method of letting go of the worries. This can indeed improve the work efficiency.’
According to lead author Hans Schroder, doctoral student at Michigan State University (MSU), "Our findings show that if you get these worries out of your head through expressive writing, those cognitive resources are freed up to work towards the task you're completing and you become more efficient."
Previous research and studies have also indicated that expressive writing can have a positive impact on individuals who are struggling to process past traumas or stressful events
"Expressive writing makes the mind work less hard on upcoming stressful tasks, which is what worriers often get 'burned out' over, their worried minds working harder and hotter," added Jason Moser, Associate Professor at MSU.
"This technique takes the edge off their brains so they can perform the task with a 'cooler head'," Moser added.
For the study, college students identified as chronically anxious through a validated screening measure completed a computer-based "flanker task".
The task measured their response accuracy and reaction times. Right before the task, about half of the participants wrote about their thoughts and feelings about the upcoming task for eight minutes.
The other half, in the control condition, were made to pen down what they did the day before. While the two groups performed at about the same level of speed and accuracy, the expressive-writing group performed the flanker task more efficiently, indicating they used fewer brain and cognitive resources.