Close
How Poetry Can Have a Calming Effect on You

Do you know that that you can experience a feeling of calmness and reduction of sadness, fear, and anxiety when you help your brain adjust your emotions by writing down your thoughts and feelings? Yes, researchers have discovered that you can have a catharsis just by putting your personal experience on paper. This is because the activity inhibits that part of your brain in charge of emotional imbalance, giving an edge to the area that promotes self-control.

The Science Behind it

How good and well-structured your literary work is has nothing to do with this effect because, according to scientists, the less clear your written works are, the more effective they are in bringing the needed impact. Now, therapies that will help ease fears and phobias are on the way. A neuroscientist, Dr. Matthew Lieberman, of the University of California has revealed some of his findings in his lecture Putting Feelings into Words at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

According to him, writing down your feelings has an unconscious ability to regulate your emotions. You find yourself getting free from distress and even though you had not thought about it, you experience the benefits anyway. There is a close link between this effect and the reason why people write diaries or compose songs that should not be aired on the radio in the first place.

To prove his findings on the therapeutic effect of writing down what you feel, Dr. Lieberman scanned the brains of about 30 selected persons who were asked to describe their distressing moments. He discovered that writing could reduce the activity in the amygdale, that part of the human brain concerned with the emotion of fear and increase the activity in the pre-frontal cortex which regulates the mind.

The Effect

The conclusion was that calmness and a mental balance is reestablished when you engage in writing about your emotional experience. In most cases, the writer does not notice the changes going on in his brain, just as the findings claimed.

People cannot point out the actual effect it has on them, but a look at the brain will reveal what was happening. The more activity on the frontal, the less response you find in the amygdale, creating something like a see-saw effect. In another encounter, therapy for those with a phobia of spiders was part of the experiment. An exciting discovery was made: the more they wrote about their phobia, the higher the effect of the therapy compared to those who did not write down anything. Dr. Lieberman believed these things have clinical applications. According to him, those who put their fears in words were able to experience a reduction in the level of fears they had harbored all the while.

Also, Lieberman observed that the best way to retain the effect was to write in less vivid terms. Writing descriptive texts made the individuals relive their worst moments, and this defeats the purpose of the therapy. Also, manual writing is shown to be more effectiveness than typing.