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Scientist Finds Unexpected Benefits Only People Who Love To Write Experience

Scientist Finds Unexpected Benefits Only People Who Love To Write Experience

If you’re the type of person who turns to writing more often than most people, you understand how relieving, clarifying and enriching it can be. If you write regularly for personal objectives, you may find yourself getting anxious in the middle of the day, because you’re still at work and can’t wait to get home so you can keep writing! Ideas may float throughout your head on a constant basis, and it might be difficult just to keep track of them all. You love to write and enjoy it on a deep level simply for the act itself. What you may not have been aware of, though, is that there are serious medical benefits to writing.

New Zealand researchers conducted a biopsy-related study in 2013 on 49 healthy seniors, aged 64 to 97. The researchers had the control group write as factually as possible about daily activities or the condition of a room. The experimental group was instructed to write about a traumatic, upsetting personal experience from the past. Both groups wrote for three days in a row, 20 minutes each. Then, in order to allow any negative feelings that arose from recalling upsetting events to subside, the scientists waited two weeks to perform the biopsy.

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The biopsy was then performed and the healing was tracked over 21 days through photography. 76 percent of the experimental group had already fully healed by day 11, as compared to only 42 percent of the control group by the same time.

Burning questions are sure to arise, and the biggest one is: how did reflective writing help this much in such a short period of time?

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They experienced lower levels of stress through emotionally expressive writing

Co-author of the New Zealand study, Elizabeth Broadbent, concluded that writing about a deeply upsetting experience enabled the experimental participants to make greater sense of their feelings, which in turn reduced the stress surrounding these events.

They see their health levels go up, regardless of their background or medical condition

The health benefits of writing are (fortunately) not restricted to this 2013 New Zealand study. Dr. James Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, has been working for nearly two decades with expressive writing as his focal point of study. Dr. Pennebaker was the first to popularize this methodology and bring it to bigger stages of implementation. The craziest part is Dr. Pennebaker and those he’s worked with have found almost no limits to the conditions expressive writing can help.

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They see fewer problems with disease, and ailments often fade away sooner

Patients with arthritis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, asthma and cystic fibrosis have all experienced noticeable, long-term improvements through writing for 15-20 minutes a day, no longer than three to five days at a time.

They are able to organize their thoughts better and let go of the past more easily

Dr. Pennebaker has been asked numerous times about his own thoughts on why this approach works so well, and so consistently. In an interview at his school of tenure in 2005, Dr. Pennebaker commented that “emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives…writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

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Some of this information can seem too good to be true. Does writing out your deepest emotional thoughts about a personal matter really have the power to change the body’s response to disease or inability? As wondrous and even “magical” as it may sound, the facts are present, and this type of mental-emotional therapy has been improving lives since 1999.

Recommendations based on Dr. James Pennebaker’s methodology:

  • Write about something deeply personal and of critical emotional importance
  • Write for 20 minutes without stopping
  • Repeat this over a period of three to five days

Through the power of reflective writing, you are likely to find yourself feeling less stressed, more at ease with your past and even more physically well. Writing is not only an enjoyable activity – it can change your very state of wellbeing!

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Brad Johnson

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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