Why Writing Works
Hamsters love wheels. We're not hamsters.
But we jump on the hamster wheel when we experience anxiety. Anxiety is basically just negative cyclical thinking. We imagine a future event, perceive a potential danger, and think up a strategy to avoid the danger. Then we RE-imagine the future event and perceive yet ANOTHER potential danger, come up with ANOTHER strategy, and so on...
What breaks the cycle? Writing. Writing is one of our greatest tools against cyclical thinking. Here's why:
Writing requires evaluation
A thought doesn't ask to be evaluated before formulating in your mind. It just appears whether it's legit or not. Then, you're stuck dealing with that thought. However, when we put something in writing, a higher level of thinking occurs. The brain evaluates whether what we're writing is true or false.
Writing requires process
A thought is automatic. It's either pleasant or unpleasant and emotion sparks immediately. As we write, we process more slowly and have a better chance at processing our emotions, handling our feelings, and monitoring our response. This helps us not get overly emotional when unnecessary.
Writing gives a sense of achievement
Anxiety begs us to do something. Writing gives us the sense that we've done something about our worries. We gain a sense of control and room to breathe.
Writing helps us see the big picture
As your thoughts cycle, you get more and more focused on tiny details that could be a big deal. When we write, we are forced to zoom out and see that all the tiny details we're worrying about are typically pointless and that there's a bigger picture to focus on. Oddly, the bigger picture is never as scary as the tiny details.
Writing gives you a record of the past
Last, but not least, when you write stuff down, you can then read through it later. I know this seems obvious, but you can't do that with your thoughts. Thoughts are intangible. They're hard to organize as important or unimportant. They're hard to flag as dealt with or not yet dealt with. It's hard to remember why one thought is legitimate and another is not. Writing takes care of all of that, because now we can retrace our steps and see what we did with a thought the last time it ran across our mind.