You can make your brain run more efficiently and cut down on energy wasted through anxiety.
Do you worry that the car won’t start for that important meeting? Or maybe, that you’ve missed your turn, that the dog will get sick if you’re not careful or that you’ll forget to buy Christmas presents in time?
Chronic anxiety can really stop you in your tracks. According to the experts, it affects about 6% of the entire population at some point, and it can take up a lot of energy.
“Worrying takes up cognitive resources; it’s kind of like people who struggle with worry are constantly multitasking ,” said study lead author Hans Schroder, an MSU doctoral student in psychology at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital.
But one some simple act can make a big difference.
A study from the University of Michigan has found that simply writing down how you’re feeling about an upcoming event can significantly impact your thoughts. It can help you perform an upcoming stressful task more effectively.
“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.
The study had college students identified as chronically anxious complete a computer task.
Before completing the activity, half the participants wrote down their deepest thoughts about the upcoming work for 8 minutes. The other half wrote about what their activities from the day before.
Researchers found that the two groups performed the task with the same speed and accuracy. Those who wrote about their worries in connection with the activity about to be performed though, completed the work more efficiently.
“Expressive writing makes the mind work less hard on upcoming stressful tasks, which is what worriers often get “burned out” over,” said Jason Moser, associate professor of psychology and director of MSU’s Clinical Psychophysiology Lab.
“This technique takes the edge off their brains so they can perform the task with a ‘cooler head.'”
Need to center yourself? Grab a pen and paper or a keyboard. Pour out your thoughts. It will tune up that engine and make it last.
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