Pick up a pen to reduce stress

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There is a multitude of self-help books which offer advice on how to avoid, reduce and beat stress.

But you don’t need to follow the latest trend – there is a simple stress-beating solution sitting on your desk right now.

Next time you’re looking to reduce stress, pick up a pen and paper and write or sketch down how you are feeling. And what a great feeling it is to just to let it all out on a draft paper.

In the seventeenth century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza wrote: “an emotion, which is a passion, ceases to be a passion as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea thereof.

In other words, by acknowledging the emotion and putting a name to it, you are blunting its negative emotional impact.

A pen and paper technique

A small study by University of California psychology professor Matthew Lieberman which presented subjects with frightening faces, before asking them to describe the emotion on display.

It showed reduced activity in the part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight reflex, the amygdala after a name was put to the emotion. Shifting the brain’s perception of the image from an object of fear to an object of scrutiny.

That’s why reaching out for a pen and paper next time you are in the midst of negative emotion can help. 

Instead of giving in to an immediate emotional response, it gives you the mental space to acknowledge what you are feeling and move on rationally.

Not only does this help you, but it helps your colleagues, friends and family too – indeed, anyone who is on the sharp end of your emotional venting.

Start journaling

Noting down your feelings in a journal helps in other ways too – giving you a private space to explore your feelings and bringing much-needed perspective.

But don’t just record your negative emotions.  Use your journal to write down positive affirmations too.

Adding a couple of positive affirmations each day can help you to stay positive.

In this way, as well as being a fantastic form of self-expression, your journal can help to boost self-esteem too.