Whether early childhood left you with difficulty coping with stress or life just got really stressful due to work or school or children or trying to cope with all three at the same time, writing things down may help. Writing lists of worries and putting them away to think about once a week may help you set them aside - you did something about them by writing a list and that can increase a feeling of control even when there is little control. Writing a gratitude journal can also help by reminding you of the positives.
Writing about worries has been found to help relieve stress and more recent research has shown that writing about happy thoughts may also help relieve stress and anxiety. Just a few minutes a day jotting down memories or ideas may help relax or take our worries off our mind for the moment. You don't know what might help until you try it and writing in a journal or on the back of junk mail envelopes can be a safe and easy strategy to try. You can also write online with a free blog such as this website. Share or keep it private, your choice!
Read more about the recent research on the World Economic Forum site: Here's why writing down your happy thoughts could combat stress and anxiety.
The research didn't show physical health benefits but the study participants only wrote in their journals for a few weeks. Other research looked at the mental health benefits of writing in a gratitude journal or writing letters about gratitude. The study group was made of college students who were seeking mental health services and their progress was tracked for 12 weeks. Benefits were felt by the students on average after four weeks whether the gratitude letters or journals were shared with others or kept private and benefits in mental health increased by the 12 week point in the study.
See the Greater Good Magazine article for more information about gratitude and mental health: How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain.
Over time reduced stress levels may help protect physical health by reducing risk of long term negative effects of oxidative stress - the physical effects that can occur from normal metabolism, strenuous exercise, or mental and emotional stress. Early childhood worries may have formed without words so drawing pictures or taking photos may be a wordless way to release some stored emotions or memories for some people.
For more ideas and information about art therapy or writing see G1: Art & Relaxation, or G2: Poetry & Prose, on the website effectivecare.info.