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Complaining To Your Friends Is Good For Your Health Study Suggests

Patrick 12 Sep 2019

Being a parent is a stressful experience, and so it is important to do whatever you can to reduce your anxiety. Well, according to a series of studies, the answer may well lie in complaining to your friends!

Yep, the seemingly normal act of complaining to your closest friends may be helping you more than you think!

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This new finding stems from a collection of findings which proved that as a new parent, it is important for a parent to have a social circle to be a part of outside of the other parent in your relationship.

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The benefits of a reliable social circle can improve mental health massively for a new parent, in particular the mother.

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One study called "Association of Maternal Social Relationships With Cognitive Development in Early Childhood" published in Journal of the American Medical Association, strongly supported these findings. They found that a social circle outside of the "mother-father-triad" would reduce parenting stress and improve maternal health.

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The study also found that this social interaction could severely increase the mental health of your baby.

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The study says, "The findings suggest that social relationships beyond the mother-child-father triad are significantly associated with children’s cognitive development and that maternal social relationships may be associated with the cognitive development of children."

One of the features of this social circle experiment that Scary Mommy hones in on is what is called the "Vent Buddy".

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A vent buddy is someone who you can, well, vent to—with surprisingly positive outcomes.

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However, the conditions must be right for a venting buddy to work. Primarily, the person you are venting to must be an empathetic person, not someone who is simply not listening and nodding along.

The presence of a vent buddy also prevent you from feeling lonely, as feelings of stress and anxiety can often be made worse by the idea of feeling isolated.

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However, as with most things, there can be negative effects to excessive complaining.

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An article published on VeryWellMind also explored the potential benefits, and negatives, of complaining.

While it is good to vent as it reduces stress, it can also help to offer a solution to a problem by working through what you are complaining about with a friend. Furthermore, venting to the right person and receiving validation can also help us to move past a problem.

Although, the main thing to remember about venting, is that it is a two-way street.

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It is crucial to offer the same support you are being offered back to your vent buddy.

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While its good to vent to a buddy and work through a problem, you need to offer the same support to them, otherwise you can alienate your vent buddy and negatively impact their health. If you work to support each other, however, you can both benefit each other greatly.

Furthermore, excessive complaining without taking time to also focus on the occasional positive thing, can lead to a generally pessimistic attitude, so it's important to not dwell too long on the negatives once you've vented.

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The benefits of complaining were specifically explored by psychiatrist Eric Berne back in 1964.

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In an article published in The Atlantic, a speech pattern that Berne called the "Yes, but..." pattern is explained as:

"First, one person states a problem. Next, another person responds by offering suggestions on how to solve it. The first then says, “Yes, but …” and proceeds to shoot down any solutions offered."

The purpose of the exchange here is not to find a solution, but for the first person to simply gain sympathy. However, those who seek to find a solution to their complaining will be happier in the long run according to a more recent study.

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A 2013 study looking at the expression of pet-peeves and effect on mindfulness had very interesting results.

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A study carried out by Robin M. Kowalski in the Journal of Social Psychology examined "the relationships among mindfulness, happiness, and the expression of pet peeves."

The study included over 400 male and female students complaining about their romantic partners, the students then filled out a questionnaire regarding their mental well-being at the end of the experiment. The results were that those who had complained with an effort towards fixing their complaints, showed and increase in their mental positivity and life satisfaction compared to those who simply complained for their own sake.

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Therefore, the answer would appear to be complaining can be good for your health.

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This is provided that you are also looking to find a solution to that which you are complaining about, and one of the best way to do that surely is to complain to a close friend who will help you to work through your problems.

So, go get yourself a vent buddy if you don't already have one, and start complaining about the things that really annoy you for the good of your health!

h/t: Scary Mommy

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