Sometimes you feel it coming. Other times, it boils over in one way or another. Whether you’re frustrated, ticked off, sad, or overwhelmed, it’s natural to want to vent. It’s also possible that regardless of how you feel, you won’t say a word, but those emotions seep out eventually. Constructive venting helps you strike a balance.
Is Venting Healthy?
In moderation, venting can be quite effective, especially if you have a responsive listener who can help you reframe the issue and look for solutions. Sharing our feelings with people who understand helps build stronger relationships, relieve tension and stress, and hopefully, provide some clarity to the situation.
Firdaus S. Dhabhar, PhD, is a professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. In this article, he explains that “discussing your problems with someone you trust isn’t a bad thing, ‘as long as it’s not done for too long or too often.’”
Another best practice of venting is not to do it with just everyone. Maybe your co-workers don’t have the time—or the inclination—to help you with job frustrations, or your partner feels conflicted when dinner conversation is full of complaining each evening. “Be mindful not to overburden such folks who show patience, kindness, and empathy,” says Dr. Dhabhar. “Their naturally helpful nature can make them attractive ‘go-to’ people for many who need to vent.”
When Is Venting Unhealthy?
Unfortunately, prolonged venting, especially when ruminating on or rehashing the same issues without resolution, can actually cause more harm than good. Merriam-Webster defines rumination as “obsessive thinking about an idea, situation, or choice especially when it interferes with normal mental functioning specifically…a focusing of one’s attention on negative or distressing thoughts or feelings that when excessive or prolonged may lead to or exacerbate an episode of depression.”
Additionally, venting to some people might simply fuel the fire of aggravation, which also isn’t helpful and might compound negative emotions—between both parties. In certain situations, we might only want our feelings validated and mistakenly believe that the more we vent, the greater the chance this will happen. This creates a pattern of behavior that feeds on itself, which some psychologists refer to as “addictive venting.”
Tips for Constructive Venting
Remember, the key to constructive venting is not to simply talk ad nauseam. If you’re prone to verbal rumination, this behavior can keep you in a non-productive loop of heightened—and often heated—emotion, whereas taking a more constructive tack helps manage your reactions more effectively. Conversely, if you have a tendency to keep feelings bottled up, allowing yourself to use a constructive venting technique might actually make you feel better about opening up to a trusted confidant because you’ll be focused on solutions.
The Greater Good Science Center suggests the following tips for constructive venting:
Avoid doing it online. Even though you might sometimes find people who share your perspective, experts have noticed that negativity is far too easy to spread online—and could possibly open you up to more troublesome consequences, such as bullying or trolling. Sure, it might feel good at first to type away the frustration, but it’s a one-sided futile exercise that doesn’t really resolve the core problem.
Be selective about who you vent to. We mentioned this above but it bears repeating. Some people are more than willing to listen and provide a supportive shoulder. But if they don’t help you see the issue clearly and constructively, you might simply be blowing off steam without a proper resolution to the issue—which could make you feel worse.
Ask for help with perspective. When someone agrees to listen, this provides you with a person who cares and has insight you value. So rather than simply unload, the article suggests that you ask for help in reframing your experience. Questions like, “How should I think about this differently?” or “What should I do in this situation?” help both of you stay committed to finding solutions.
And if you don’t have the opportunity to vent in a certain moment, channel all that energy by taking a walk on a nature trail or around the block. Some studies indicate even 10 minutes walking outside can improve your mood and prompt more positive thoughts. When you come back indoors, you should feel calmer and have a clearer perspective.
Willingway Helps You Move Forward
It’s all too easy for people to think of inpatient rehabilitation as simply stopping drugs and alcohol. Of course, this is a critical first step to whole-person wellness, but your progress in building a sober life also involves learning new techniques for maintaining self-care, including methods that open your mind to more productive ways to navigate life.
Through therapeutic approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy, group sessions, and gender-based programs, you’re able to expand the possibilities of living. Reach out to our admissions team to learn what our Statesboro, GA, addiction treatment program has to offer.