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 the easiest way to manage in moments of suffering. Can we get extra aid by replicateing on our ideas and really feelings about what we’re going by means of, or from fliping our minds to the positive issues in our lives?
It’s a good question, as analysis suggests each strategyes might assist us deal with difficult emotions. Expressive writing, the place you replicate on distressing ideas and really feelings, has been discovered to lower our stress and result in guesster psychological and physical well being. Gratitude journaling, on the other hand, may assist us really feel happier and fewer depressed.
To compare the practices, Fekete tested them with a bunch of 79 participants during the early days of COVID (between April and June 2020), when lockdowns had 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 had been, how a lot the pandemic had created economic arduousship for them, and the way grateful they have a tendencyed to be—all issues which may affect their psychological well being.
Then, they had been randomly assigned to both an expressive writing or gratitude journaling practice and immediateed to put in writing for 5 to 10 minutes each day over every week. (A control group was not given writing instructions at all.)
On the finish of the week and one month later, people had 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 very least a month after. Even accounting for individuals’s ages, level of isolation, prior gratefulness, and financial arduousship, gratitude writing was significantly extra beneficial than expressive writing.
“Although expressive writing stands out as 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 very least on this research, writing about experiences in a positive approach appeared to assist people reframe issues and allowed them to manage a bit guesster 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 singular experience and so out of individuals’s personal control that expressive writing was not as nicely swimsuited to the scenario.
“COVID was very unfamiliar, very unpredictable, and really stressful. So, perhaps writing about it actually exacerbated some individuals’s emotions as an alternative of alleviating them,” says Fekete.
Surprisingly, neither gratitude nor expressive writing significantly have an effect oned individuals’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 quite a lot of room for enhancement there,” she says.
Do her discoverings suggest we should always all flip to the positives (and never delve into our negative emotions) once we’re below 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 just isn’t for everybody.
Fekete want to see extra analysis exploring tweak writing practices to guesster 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 belowstand the dangers guesster, to see what may greatest relieve their stress. And he or she’d prefer to experiment with practices guesster matched to individual preferences.
“Permiting people alternative within the kinds of interventions they interact in could actually have a guesster impact in professionalmoting positive well-being,” she says. “It’s important to have a match between the person and the activity, and which will range based mostly on individuals’s personality characteristics or the culture they’re from.”
Nonetheless, she and her staff are excited to see that such a brief, simple practice might assist relieve stress below circumstances as difficult as a worldhuge pandemic.
“During a really constricted time, this intervention was on-line, relatively straightforward 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 workers author and contributing editor for Greater Good. Based mostly at UC-Berkeley, Higher Good excessivelights floor breaking scientific analysis into the roots of compassion and altruism. Copyproper Higher 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 benesuits as a result of it helps individuals appraise occasions positively. We hypothesized that a web-based gratitude writing intervention would yield better benesuits than an expressive writing intervention or control group. Participants had been randomized to one in every of three teams and completed assessments one-week and one-month post-intervention. The gratitude writing group foremosttained 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 guesster useful resource for dealing with stress and negative have an effect on than traditional expressive writing methods below excessively stressful situations with uncertain trajectories.