One of the most eye-opening things I've learned from my MS in Nutrition Education is the effect stress has on our bodies.
From studies of immigrants passing away in their sleep as a result of massive panic attacks to babies conceived during famine and stressful circumstances developing chronic illness, aggression and more six decades later. It's enough to make anyone feel anxious. Which, of course, is the opposite desired effect.
I've spent the last few months studying stress, stressors, our body's chemical response and ways to cope while using all of this research and techniques on myself. For women, one of the most effective ways to combat stress is through expressive writing.
Moving words, feelings, ideas, thoughts, emotions from inside our heads on to paper not only feels cathartic, but has a lasting effect on our cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
Writing isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's definitely worth a shot if you're experiencing a great deal of stressors or you simply want to fee a little more free. A little lighter. Because that's kind of what writing does, lightens our heads a bit so we can move through the rest of our day.
Where to start?
1. A notebook or journal and a pen that you love. You can try this on the computer or on a notes app but it's just not the same. Paper is where it's at.
2. Every evening, right before bed, write down a few thoughts or feelings or emotions. It can be as simple as a few words about your day, a stream of conscious, three things you're grateful for, a handful of experiences that made you smile, whatever's in your head that you feel needs to come out.
3. Try it every night for a week. If evening doesn't work, switch to mornings or some other time during your day.
Some days what you write will be short and concise.
Angry. Overwhelmed. Unwell.
Other days the words may come tumbling out and you fill up a few pages of thoughts and ideas from the day. The trick is to remember that there's no right way to do this. No right way to express your thoughts and feelings. Simply start. Write. Move the words out of your head and on to the paper. Feel the swish of the pen, the paper under your hand, the mood lighten as you spill it all out.