A research group in Japan has discovered that writing down one’s reaction to a negative incident on a piece of paper and then shredding it or throwing it away reduces feelings of anger.

“We expected that our method would suppress anger to some extent,” lead researcher Nobuyuki Kawai said. “However, we were amazed that anger was eliminated almost entirely.”

This research is important because controlling anger at home and in the workplace can reduce negative consequences in our jobs and personal lives. Unfortunately, many anger management techniques proposed by specialists lack empirical research support. They can also be difficult to recall when angry.

The results of this study, published in Scientific Reports, are the culmination of years of previous research on the association between the written word and anger reduction. It builds on work showing how interactions with physical objects can control a person’s mood.

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