By Toni Kennedy
Writing about a past traumatic experience has been repeatedly associated with improvements in health and psychological wellbeing. An explanation of these beneficial effects is that the process allows an active reappraisal of the event, marked by changes in cognitive linguistic indicators. One experiment examined the benefits of changes in words expressing cognitive reappraisal on levels of anxiety, as a proxy of stress. Seventy undergraduates, randomly divided in experimental and control groups, wrote about a past painful event or a neutral topic. In a longitudinal design, measures of anxiety were assessed before the writing sessions and four months afterwards. Findings confirm that expressive writing has positive effect on anxiety after a four-month-long follow-up period.