Journaling to Improve Stress and Manage Pain
Shared by Dr. Erik Waldeland
Journaling to Improve Stress Levels and Manage Pain
Almost daily, I have conversations with my patients on how well they’re managing stress and pain and discuss strategies they can try to better manage those levels. The reason I am always eager to have those sometimes-hard conversations is because increased stress levels, especially chronically elevated levels, cause systemic inflammation making it harder for our bodies to heal after an injury. One of the ways I find improves stress is by journaling and setting aside dedicated time throughout my week to write down my thoughts to help me better understand why I experience those feelings as well as how I can best navigate them and allow me to move on faster and more effectively.
The research I have attached below sought to find what the physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing were, and if this form of writing or journaling provided good results for the participants. What the study found was “Participants in the positive emotional writing condition showed significantly greater reductions in (1) state anxiety and (2) both trait anxiety and perceived stress over the 4‐week follow‐up period, compared to the control group.” This indicates that if I have a patient that has struggled with ongoing anxiety and has not found a good way for them to cope with the stress, that journaling or “expressive writing” has been shown to help reduce those levels. Two other great findings from the research are highlighted below, and if you are ever in need of a great way to relieve some stress give this form of journaling a try!
“There was a significant effect of condition, whereby participants assigned to the positive writing condition reported a greater decrease in Perceived Stress Scale scores between baseline and the 4‐week follow‐up compared with those in the control condition”
“Positive emotional writing is known to reduce subjectively reported physical symptoms and increase positive affect.”
Smith, M. A., Thompson, A., Hall, L. J., Allen, S. F., & Wetherell, M. A. (2018). The physical and psychological health benefits of positive emotional writing: Investigating the moderating role of type D (distressed) personality. British Journal of Health Psychology, 23(4), 857–871. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12320
We love to help our patients in McKinney stay healthy. We are here to relieve back pain, neck pain and headaches while also teaching about how our diet and stress effects our over all health. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as the chiropractic adjustment and getting the proper nutrients to stay healthy. Our Doctors, near the corner of Eldorado Pkwy. and Stonebridge Rd., want to help you stay healthy and out of pain!