If you are prone to frequent bouts of worry, stress, and anxiety then you must express your feelings on a sheet of paper. This will help your brain to cool down and let you perform stress-inducing tasks more efficiently, say researchers.
Worrying and stress affect cognitive and rational functions which indirectly lead you to constantly multi-tasking because you try to do one task while trying to monitor and suppress your worries at the same time.
"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," said lead author Hans Schroder, a doctoral student at Michigan State University (MSU).
Expressive writing can even help individuals to process past traumas or stressful events as shown by previous researchers.
"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," added 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 explained.
For the study, published in the journal Psychophysiology, 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 of speed and accuracy, the expressive-writing group performed the flanker task more efficiently, meaning they used fewer brain resources.