Writing a note about your past failures has multiple benefits, it lowers stress hormone cortisol and boosts your future performances, a study suggests.
The study indicates that writing and thinking deeply about past failures can enhance your performance on a new task.
Researchers say this technique may be useful in improving performance in many areas, including therapeutic settings, education, and sports.
“Our result suggests that, in a future stressful situation, having previously written about a past failure causes the body’s stress response to look more similar to someone who isn’t exposed to stress at all,” said co-author Brynne DiMenichi from the Rutgers University-Newark.
The researchers examined the effect in two groups of volunteers for the study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.
One group of volunteers wrote about their past failures while the other group wrote on something that was not related to them.
The researchers used salivary cortisol levels to give a physiological readout of the stress experienced by the people in both groups.
The volunteers who wrote about a past failure did better when assigned a new task than others who did not, they said.
“Together, these findings show that writing and thinking critically about a past failure can prepare an individual both physiologically and cognitively for new challenges,” DiMenichi noted.