Complaining is bad for your health, according to science

Posted at 6:44 AM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-15 06:44:27-05

No one likes to hang around someone who constantly whines and moans. It may seem harmless to vent your frustrations, but if vocalizing your negative sentiments becomes a habit, it can have some pretty harmful consequences.

It turns out that constant complaining will not only turn off others, but it can actually wreak havoc in other ways, too. Although it’s quite obvious that complaining can bring down your mood and the happiness of others around you, it can also have a large impact on your brain functioning, and it can even take a toll on your body as well.

As if you needed any other reason to stop complaining, consider these five ways that constant negativity can harm your health.

1. It Makes You More Likely To Think Negatively

The more you complain, the more likely you are to think negative thoughts later on. Neuroscientists commonly use the phrase “Synapses that fire wire together,” to explain this concept. 

Every time you complain, your brain physically rewires itself to make it easier and more likely for that reaction — aka the type of thought — to occur again. Negative thinking ends up breeding more negative thinking.

2. It Can Damage Your Memory

MRI scans show that constant complaining can lead to shrinking of the hippocampus, the region in your brain responsible for cognitive functioning.

A smaller hippocampus leads to a decline in memory and the ability to adapt to new situations, among other functions. This can occur from even just a few days of stressing out and lead to long-term damage.

3. It Increases Your Levels Of Cortisol (The Stress Hormone)

When you complain, you increase your levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Chronically high levels of cortisol can lead to a variety of health problems, including increased risk of depression, digestive problems, sleep issues, higher blood pressure and even increased risk of heart disease.

4. It Can Shorten Your Lifespan

Constant complaining is not only bad in the moment, but it can be detrimental in the long run. One study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that optimists live longer than pessimists, with a 55 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from heart failure.

5. It Makes The People Around You Negative Too

No one wants to be around unpleasant people, but if you keep complaining, you might find your peers adapting these negative habits as well. Listening to someone complain makes you more likely to be negative as well, which can just perpetuate the desire to release all those unhappy thoughts.

As they say, birds of a feather tend to flock together, so if you want more positivity, look for people who keep their sour thoughts to themselves.

At the end of the day, sometimes it feels good to get your grievances off your chest, but if you’re going to express your negative sentiments, make sure you’re doing it in a productive way.

If something is bothering you, take the proper action to help eliminate or resolve the issue. And if you really have to express how you feel, just make sure you limit yourself to an allotted period of time for venting, and then move on.