Sunday, March 13, 2011

Writing After Shocks

(AP Photo/Yasushi Kanno, The Yomiuri Shimbun) JAPAN
People the world over are horrified at the devastation wreaked upon Japan. Haiti and the double-whammy in Christchurch shook us up. Fukushima  trumps them all with the basic destruction compounded by tsunamis rushing halfway across the planet and savaged nuclear plants. How will we ever feel safe again after what's beginning to seem like an ever-escalating assault by Mother Nature.

Obviously Japanese citizens are under the most severe sort of trauma as they deal with the current emergencies and contemplate the impact on their nation of recovery efforts. But to some extent this string of events, coupled with continuing concern about our economy, rising gas prices, and other stressful conditions traumatizes all of us, escalating stress levels for many.

The medical community has been warning us about the negative health effects of stress for over fifty years. We know it leads to cardiovascular problems, lowered immunity, depression, and a host of other ills. So what's a person to do? Lists of stress management techniques abound. A search for "stress management" turned up 16 million links. WebMD has two pages of tips, and many more of links and articles.

Fortunately, one of the simplest ways to offset the stressful effects of trauma is to pick up pen and paper and write about your thoughts, feelings, fears and perceptions. Writing for as little as twenty minutes about troubling topics may boost your immune system and lead to numerous health benefits reversing the ravages of stress. Research has repeatedly shown enhanced cardio-vascular function, lower blood pressure, reduced asthma and arthritis symptoms, decreased need for pain medication in many instances, and more. Emotional health benefits like relief from depression, better sleep, and enhanced sense of well-being are also common.

Expressive writing is not a panacea intended to replace medical care, but it often serves as an effective adjunct, enhancing effects of any treatment you may undergo. It's affordable for anyone, and can be done anywhere.

Write now: write about your thoughts and feelings about the current spate of natural disasters and how they affect you. The keys maximizing any health benefits from this writing session include liberal expression of emotions and feelings and looking at the situation from several points of view. Ultimately the writing may lead to deeper personal insight into the personal meaning these conditions have for you.

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