A worry shared is meant to be a worry halved, but apparently writing down your worries on paper can help ease anxiety and prevent the memory getting blocked (especially before an exam).
Expressive writing – where people can let their problems spill out onto the page, and is known to have psychological benefits in terms of making it easier to cope with issues – is just one of the techniques used by teachers in Washington County to help students deal with test anxiety.
The study tested students about to take their high-school final exams, asking those with high anxiety to write down their fears for 10 minutes before the test. The students who did the writing outperformed their non-writing peers in the test by 6%, according to the study.
While the benefits of writing therapy are usually seen over many months, the study concluded: “If expressive writing alle- viates the impact of worries on performance, then students most prone to worry during exams (i.e. students highest in test anxiety) should benefit most from the writing intervention. Expressive writing eliminates the relation commonly seen between test anxiety and poor test performance.”
I’m the first person to turn to pen and notebook (usually new!) when I feel emotionally overwhelmed. I may just try scribbling a few notes next time I feel performance anxiety creeping up on me.