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Why writing your 'divorce story' can help your heart

The stress of divorce can cause numerous physical and emotional ailments. Some of these can cause long-term problems if not dealt with in a timely manner.

Many people, including therapists and no less than Oprah extol the virtues of journaling. However, a recently-published study found that another type of writing may in fact help reduce the stress of a divorce.

Over a hundred people who had recently gone through the break-up of a marriage were told to express their thoughts in writing in different ways. One group was instructed to express their "strongest and deepest emotions." Another was told to write a "coherent and organized narrative" – a "divorce story" of sorts.

The subjects who wrote about their break-up as though they were telling a story (called narrative expressive writing) were found to have a healthier heart rate and heart rate variability than those who used expressive writing to deal with their feelings.

One psychology doctoral student involved in the study postulated that "the ability to create a structured narrative -- not just re-experiencing emotions but making meaning out of them -- allows people to process their feelings in a more adaptive way, which may in turn help improve their cardiovascular health."

Obviously, everyone has different coping mechanisms that work for them. Many people aren't comfortable writing at all. They'd rather spend time talking to others in a support group, go for a long run by themselves or have a regular massage at the gym.

The important thing is to find out what makes you feel better emotionally and physically and to give yourself time to deal with your feelings and heal. Don't hesitate to ask your Massachusetts family law attorney for suggestions and resources in your area.

Source: PsychCentral, "Writing Divorce as ‘Story’ May Ease Cardiovascular Effects of Stress," Traci Pedersen, accessed May 16, 2017

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