For certain people, writing about their feelings post-split can make things worse.
After 15 months of dating—which included memorable moments like that romantic Caribbean vacation, dinner parties with BFF Karlie Kloss, and of course the original #swangoals—pop star Taylor Swift and her DJ-producer boyfriend Calvin Harris have officially called it quits. There was "no drama," according to People: "Things just don't work out sometimes," an anonymous source said. "No one cheated."
While we hope that's true, Swift's fans are already anticipating her breakup songs about the split. But Tay may not want to put pen to paper just yet: Although writing about your feelings (see: Swift's entire discography) is commonly thought of as helpful post-breakup, it may actually prolong the healing process.
In a 2012 study from the University of Arizona, published in Clinical Psychological Science, researchers recruited 90 participants who were recently separated or divorced, and divided them into three groups. The people in the first group were told to write about their feelings in a journal. The second group completed "narrative expressive writing" exercises (in which they put their thoughts into story format, with a beginning, middle, and end). And the third group simply chronicled their day-to-day activities without mentioning their emotions at all.
Surprisingly, participants in the first and second groups who also happened to be "high ruminators"—meaning people who think very deeply about upsetting situations—reported greater emotional distress in follow-up sessions eight months later.
The researchers suspect that for those people who naturally tend to dwell, writing about a painful breakup may actually prolong the agony. "This study is important because it challenges our notions about what might be the thing to do to promote healing after a divorce," lead author David Sbarra, PhD, a psychological scientist at the University of Arizona, told ScienceDaily when the study first came out. "It makes us reconsider the things we do to try to put our lives back together."
For T.Swift, the healthiest strategy might really be to shake it off.