The connections between meditation and stress or exercise and pain management are easy to draw. Did you know there may be more low-impact options to help manage your stress and pain, though? Art therapy, which is often used in psychology to help individuals overcome their mental blocks and explore their feelings, can be used in conjunction with writing to alleviate stress and manage pain.

How does writing for stress and pain management work?

In 2011, the Harvard Medical School tested the theory that expressive writing could help patients dealing with stress related to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety. Otherwise healthy students were asked to spend 15 minutes a day, four days a week writing about traumas they had experienced in their lives. These students began to decrease their visits to the medical clinic once they began the project.

The study also indicated that the process could be used to alleviate the symptoms of physical conditions such as sleep apnea, arthritis, and migraine headaches in conjunction with traditional treatments. While the initial feelings during the writing process may be upsetting, long-term commitment to the process showed an overall sense of relaxation.

The participants wrote non-stop about experiences that caused them stress in their past. They were asked to write freely, without pause, for the duration and release their inhibitions about the issue surrounding their stress. The idea was that the writers could discover the underlying trauma related to their stress or pain and face it in a safe environment.

Thinking about an experience, and expressing the emotions surrounding it, helps to organize thoughts and gives meaning to the event.

The beauty of expressive writing is that it doesn’t require any specific equipment or environment. Simply sit comfortably at a table or desk, use a pen or pencil and paper rather than a computer, and allow yourself to write continuously for 15 minutes about an experience that is causing you stress.

Do you think expressive writing can help you with stress and pain management?

Image by Andrew_Writer via Flickr

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