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quote icon Why write? Thinking or talking about an event can lead to ruminating, where you become lost in your emotions. But writing forces you to slow down, says Joshua Smyth, distinguished professor of biobehavioral health and of medicine at Pennsylvania State University, who studies expressive writing. The mere act of labeling a feeling?of putting words to an emotion?can dampen the neural activity in the threat area of the brain and increase activity in the regulatory area, says Annette Stanton, chair of the department of psychology and professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA. Dr. Stanton?s research suggests that expressive writing can lead to lower depressive symptoms, greater positive mood and enhanced life appreciation. ?Writing can increase someone?s acceptance of their experience, and acceptance is calming,? says Dr. Stanton.