J Lang Soc Psychol. 2009 Sep;28(3):281-296. Epub 2009 Jan 5.
This study investigated whether relative changes in cognitive, emotion, temporal, and self-reference word frequencies in repeated narratives predicted improvements in mindfulness skills (i.e., nonjudgmental acceptance of present-moment experiences, observing and describing present stimuli, and acting with awareness) subsequent to narrative self-disclosure. Participants wrote repeated narratives of traumatic or daily events over 3 days. Mindfulness was assessed at baseline and 4 to 8 weeks posttask. Results indicated that relative increases in cognitive processing words (among traumatic events participants and women in both conditions) and present tense words (among all participants) significantly predicted increases in nonjudgmental acceptance, describing, or overall mindfulness. Increases in present tense words appeared to partially mediate the higher mindfulness outcomes of participants writing about daily events when compared with those writing about trauma. The findings suggest that linguistic changes in self-disclosure narratives are associated with improvements in specific mindfulness skills.
J Clin Psychol. 2009 Sep;65(9):971-88. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20600.
This randomized study examined whether narrative emotional disclosure improves mindfulness, experiential avoidance, and mental health, and how baseline levels of and changes in mindfulness and experiential avoidance relate to mental health. Participants (N=233) wrote repeated traumatic (experimental condition) or unemotional daily events narratives (control condition). Regression analyses showed neither condition nor gender effects on mental health or experiential avoidance at a 1-month follow-up, although the control condition significantly increased in one component of mindfulness. Decreased experiential avoidance (across conditions) and increased mindfulness (in the experimental condition) significantly predicted improved mental health. Narrative disclosure thus did not improve outcomes measured here. However, increasing mindfulness when writing narratives with traumatic content, and decreasing experiential avoidance regardless of writing content, was associated with improved mental health.
Poon and Danoff-Burg (2011) offered mindfulness (“paying complete attention to the experiences occurring presently, in a nonjudgmental way or an accepting stance”) as a moderator that might deepen the writer’s capacity to create insight and meaning. Study participants completed the Freiberg Mindfulness Inventory and other measurements before following instructions to write three times over several days, for twenty minutes each time, about a stressful experience. Mindfulness influenced the extent of benefits produced by expressive writing. . . . [A] higher mindfulness score predicted greater change over time in decreased physical symptoms, decreased psychological symptoms, and decreased negative affect, but an increase in sleep quality and positive affect. These findings suggest that people who are more mindful benefit more from disclosing their emotions and thoughts regarding stressful experiences than do those who are less mindful (890).
From “Your Brain on Ink”