comes in many forms, and not all of them involve splurging on sweets or binging
Netflix. One of these methods is expressive writing—yeah, I know, the idea of
writing voluntarily makes most people want to run the other way. Hear me out
a study done by Harvard Health, Dr. James Pennebaker observed how a group of
people with normal to high stress levels (full-time workers, students, or both)
were affected by journaling for fifteen minutes a day. He found that
freewriting even for this short amount of time was effective in helping these
individuals regulate their emotions and even reduce anxiety; a small sample of
students with test-anxiety who wrote about their feelings before the exam
received higher overall grades than those who did not.
you’re still not convinced, I should add that journaling has no guidelines or
expectations. Some people write angsty poems (mine are cringe-worthy), while
others just vent about a coworker or professor who, like, totally has it out
for them (again, don’t lie, we all have one). Another technique is making up a
story to take your mind off of the all-too-real stressors you might be feeling
in your normal life. These can be anything from writing yourself as a Jedi to
imagining you’re on your way to the Grammy’s with husband Frank Ocean (anything
is possible! It’s your journal, your fantasy).
In order for writing as self-care to be effective, it’s important to think of it outside of the academic mindset you might have when crafting essays for a grade. Writing for yourself is meant to alleviate some of the stress piled on you from other areas of your life (including writing those intimidating essays and research papers) instead of adding more. Writing for a few minutes at the end of a long day can help to remove some of the emotional and mental anxiety you’ve accumulated by writing it out physically; sometimes it feels really satisfying to rip out the paper and crumple it up afterwards, so you can literally throw away your negativity. So the next time you’re at the end of your rope, grab a notebook and try it out. The benefits are real, and you might even feel a little more relaxed the next time you open your laptop to write that essay for your most critical instructor.
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