During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people suffered excessive stress. People couldn’t work and confronted financial anxiety, they felt lonely and isolated, they worried about catching a lifelessly disease or giving it to someone they liked, and their malestal well being suffered.
For researcher Erin Fekete, of the University of Indianapolis, the unfolding pandemic was an opportunity to reply an extendedstanding question about one of the best ways to manage in moments of suffering. Can we get extra reduction by mirroring on our ideas and really feelings about what we’re going by way of, or from fliping our minds to the positive issues in our lives?
It’s a good question, as analysis suggests each strategyes may assist us address difficult emotions. Expressive writing, the place you mirror on distressing ideas and really feelings, has been discovered to lower our stress and result in wagerter psychological and physical well being. Gratitude journaling, on the other hand, also can assist us really feel happier and fewer depressed.
To compare the practices, Fekete tested them with a gaggle of 79 participants during the early days of COVID (between April and June 2020), when lockdowns have been common. People first reported on their physical well being, their psychological distress (anxiety, depression, and stress), and their positive and negative really feelings. In addition they rated how isolated they have been, how a lot the pandemic had created economic exhaustingship for them, and the way grateful they have an inclinationed to be—all issues which may impression their psychological well being.
Then, they have been randomly assigned to both an expressive writing or gratitude journaling practice and immediateed to jot down for 5 to 10 minutes daily over per week. (A control group was not given writing instructions at all.)
On the finish of the week and one month later, people have been once more requested about their distress, their positive and negative really feelings, and their physical well being. The people who wrote about gratitude experienced a significant lower in stress and negative emotions compared to the other two teams, and these results finaled for at the least a month after. Even accounting for folks’s ages, level of isolation, prior gratefulness, and financial exhaustingship, gratitude writing was significantly extra beneficial than expressive writing.
“Although expressive writing will be the gold standard for writing interventions, gratitude and other types of writing could also be simply as effective or extra effective,” says Fekete. “At the least on this research, writing about experiences in a positive manner appeared to assist people reframe issues and allowed them to manage a bit wagerter with the stress of COVID.”
Fekete says she was surprised that expressive writing wasn’t extra assistful to people, given previous analysis. However, she provides, it’s possible that COVID was such a novel experience and so out of individuals’s personal control that expressive writing was not as effectively swimsuited to the state of affairs.
“COVID was very unfamiliar, very unpredictable, and really stressful. So, perhaps writing about it actually exacerbated some folks’s emotions as an alternative of alleviating them,” says Fekete.
Surprisingly, neither gratitude nor expressive writing significantly have an effect oned folks’s temper, anxiety, or physical well being. However, says Fekete, that is likely to be as a result of participants weren’t experiencing many problems with these so early within the pandemic. “There could not have been plenty of room for enhancement there,” she says.
Do her discoverings indicate we must always all flip to the positives (and never delve into our negative emotions) once we’re beneath stress? Fekete can’t say for certain, as her research is only one of only a few comparing the 2 practices. Additionally, whereas the participants who engaged within the exercises benematchted, some people dropped out, suggesting writing is just not for everybody.
Fekete want to see extra analysis exploring how you can tweak writing practices to wagerter swimsuit the second and other people’s wants. For examinationple, she’d prefer to redo her experiment in a different stage of COVID when people beneathstand the dangers wagerter, to see what may finest relieve their stress. And she or he’d prefer to experiment with practices wagerter matched to individual preferences.
“Enableing people selection within the varieties of interventions they have interaction in could actually have a wagerter impact in professionalmoting positive well-being,” she says. “It’s important to have a match between the person and the activity, and which will differ primarily based on folks’s personality characteristics or the culture they’re from.”
Nonetheless, she and her workforce are excited to see that such a brief, simple practice may assist relieve stress beneath circumstances as difficult as a worldhuge pandemic.
“During a really constricted time, this intervention was on-line, relatively simple to implement, inexpensive, and reached a large variety of people who benematchted,” says Fekete. “I feel these outcomes are promising for the longer term.”
— Jill Suttie, Psy.D., serves as a employees author and contributing editor for Greater Good. Primarily based at UC-Berkeley, Larger Good excessivelights floor breaking scientific analysis into the roots of compassion and altruism. Copyproper Larger Good.
A Brief Gratitude Writing Intervention Decreased Stress and Negative Affect During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Journal of Happiness Studies). From the Summary:
- Exploring methods to mitigate the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic is important for long-term well being. Expressive and gratitude-focused writing are effective methods to assist individuals course of traumatic or stressful occasions. Gratitude-focused writing could yield additional benematches as a result of it helps individuals appraise occasions positively. We hypothesized that a web based gratitude writing intervention would yield higher benematches than an expressive writing intervention or control group. Participants have been randomized to one among three teams and completed assessments one-week and one-month post-intervention. The gratitude writing group principaltained gratitude levels and decreased stress and negative have an effect on at one-month post-intervention. The expressive writing group decreased in gratitude and confirmed no modifications in stress or negative have an effect on at one-month post-intervention. The control group decreased in gratitude and negative have an effect on and confirmed no modifications in stress at one-month post-intervention. Gratitude writing could also be a wagerter useful resource for dealing with stress and negative have an effect on than traditional expressive writing methods beneath excessively stressful situations with uncertain trajectories.