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Methods to Reduce Anxiety permalink

Affect Labeling permalink

The next time painful or stressful feelings threaten to overwhelm you, here is what you do: get something to write with. Get something to write on. Write down a word that describes the emotion you’re experiencing. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive. Just a word or two will do.

Affect labeling—the act of naming one’s emotional state—helps to blunt the immediate impact of negative feelings and kickstart the process of climbing back down from stress. The clarifying effect of putting feelings into words was observed at least as far back as the 17th century, when the philosopher Baruch Spinoza wrote in his Ethics: “An emotion, which is a passion, ceases to be a passion, as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea thereof.” It’s also the basis of modern psychoanalysis.