Friday July 20, 2018

Stressing Over Work? A New Study Says Expressive Writing Can help Brain Relax and Perform Tasks Efficiently

Expressive writing can not only help individuals process past traumas or stressful event but also prepare for stressful tasks in the future

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Stressing over tasks is not going to help achieve targets. But turns out writing about it can. (Representational Image ), Pixabay
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New York, September 15, 2017 : If the anxiety of performing an upcoming task is giving you stress, simply writing about your feelings may help you perform the task more efficiently, suggests new research.

The research – published online in the journal Psychophysiology — provides the first neural evidence for the benefits of expressive writing, said lead author Hans Schroder, a doctoral student in psychology at Michigan State University (MSU) in the US.

“Worrying takes up cognitive resources; it’s kind of like people who struggle with worry are constantly multitasking — they are doing one task and trying to monitor and suppress their worries at the same time,” Schroder said.

“Our findings show that if you get these worries out of your head through expressive writing, those cognitive resources are freed up to work toward the task you’re completing and you become more efficient,” Schroder said.

For the study, college students identified as chronically anxious through a validated screening measure completed a computer-based “flanker task” that measured their response accuracy and reaction times.

Before the task, about half of the participants wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings about the upcoming task for eight minutes. The other half, in the control condition, wrote about what they did the day before.

While the two groups performed at about the same level for speed and accuracy, the expressive-writing group performed the flanker task more efficiently, meaning they used fewer brain resources, measured with electroencephalography, or EEG, in the process.

While much previous research has shown that expressive writing can help individuals process past traumas or stressful events, the current study suggests the same technique can help people — especially worriers — prepare for stressful tasks in the future.

“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,” 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. (IANS)

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Childhood Stress You Suffered May Affect Your Kids

The findings showed that a mother's childhood experiences had a much stronger adverse effect on a child's behavioural health than the father's experiences

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For the study the team analysed information from a US national survey containing information from four generations of families. Pixabay

Experiencing childhood trauma resulting from separation of parents or witnessing violence at home may have long-term effects, suggests a new study that found that ill effects of such stress can reach the kids of the sufferer.

The results, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that the children of parents who themselves had four or more adverse childhood experiences were at double the risk of having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and were four time more likely to have mental health problems.

“This is the first research to show that the long-term behavioural health harms of childhood adversity extend across generations from parent to child,” said study lead author Adam Schickedanz from University of California, Los Angeles, US.

For the study the team analysed information from a US national survey containing information from four generations of families.

stress
Representational image. Pixabay

The researchers looked at whether the parents were abused, neglected or exposed to other family stress or maltreatment while growing up and analysed information on their children’s behaviour problems and medical diagnoses of attention deficit disorder.

The types of childhood hardships analysed for the research included divorce or separation of parents, death of or estrangement from a parent, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, witnessing violence in the home, exposure to substance abuse in the household or parental mental illness.

Also Read: Is Your Bedroom Stressing You Out?

The findings showed that a mother’s childhood experiences had a much stronger adverse effect on a child’s behavioural health than the father’s experiences.

“If we can identify these children who are at a higher risk, we can connect them to services that might reduce their risk or prevent behavioural health problems,” Schickedanz explained. (IANS)