Writing poems or songs can help beat the blues
Feeling blue? Well then, try writing poems or songs, for a new study has suggested that doing so could help your brain deal with stress.health and fitness Updated: Feb 16, 2009 12:59 IST
Feeling blue? Well then, try writing poems or songs, for a new study has suggested that doing so could help your brain deal with stress.
Putting pen to paper is said to help the brain ‘regulate emotion’ and reduces feelings of anxiety, fear and sadness.
During the study, Dr Matthew Lieberman, a neuroscientist at the University of California, and his colleagues discovered that the act of putting feelings into words is often cathartic because it inhibits parts of the brain linked to emotional turmoil, and increases activity in the region to do with self-control.
The quality of the verse or prose written has no bearing on the effect on the author. In fact, the researchers suggest that the less vivid and descriptive the piece, the better.
And now, they hope to develop therapies based on their findings that could be used to ease social fears and phobias.
Lieberman said that expressing yourself in print was ‘a sort of unintentional emotion regulation’.
"It seems to regulate our distress. I don't think that people sit down in order to regulate their emotions but there is a benefit,” the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"I think it could play a role in why many people write diaries or write bad lyrics to songs - the kind that should never be played on the radio," he added.
Lieberman proved the therapeutic power of writing by scanning the brains of 30 individuals while they described distressing pictures.
He found that the act tended to reduce activity in the amygala, a part of the brain connected with emotion and fear and increased activity in the pre-frontal cortex, the mind''s regulator.
This suggests that the mere action of writing about an emotion was a way of calming down the brain and re-establishing mental balance.
"If you ask people then they don't think that it serves an emotion regulation but when you look at the brain that looks like what is going on," he added.
"The more frontal activity we see, the less amydala response. There seems to be a see-saw affect," he added.
Lieberman outlined his findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in a lecture called Putting Feelings Into Words.
First Published: Feb 16, 2009 12:56 IST