While venting might feel good in the moment, doing it over and over again without any resolution or forward progress can make you feel worse. Excessively complaining and rehashing personal problems with someone else is known as co-rumination, and research shows it can increase stress, especially in those who are already feeling down.
A patient who had a difficult relationship with her mother-in-law would spend hours going over the latest incident or insult with her best friend, speculating about what the monster-in-law might do next. It was their go-to conversation—or, as my patient called it, their weekly “bitchfest.” Afterward, she realized, she often felt even angrier and more frustrated.
The problem with venting is that it amplifies negativity. The more you think or talk about an issue, the more salient it becomes. It’s adding fuel to the fire. Next time you feel like doing so, try focusing on problem-solving or talking about something else entirely. Also, keep an eye on the clock. If you spend more than 15 minutes on the problem, it’s time to move on. Discourage venting from others as well. If your best friend calls you to talk about something that is bothering her, resist joining in and asking questions that encourage her to recount every little detail. “Start from the beginning and tell me everything!” will only lead to a play-by-play of what happened and what she was feeling. It encourages rumination. Consider asking a question that might enable her to gain distance from the situation and insight, such as: “If someone else were in this situation, what advice would you give her?” Rather than dwelling on the details, help her generate a plan of action.
A version of this article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Marie Claire.
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Omid Scobie Knows His Explosive New Book Might Be the End of His Career as a Royal Correspondent
He opens up exclusively to Marie Claire about why he chose to report on the royal family “completely fearlessly” in “Endgame.”
By Rachel Burchfield
Paris Hilton Now Has 2 Children Named After Major Cities
It's called sliving, look it up.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Tiffany Haddish Addresses Her DUI Arrest—Kind Of—Just Hours After It Happened
Arrested at 5:45 a.m. on Friday, she still took to the stage Friday night to perform a stand-up routine.
By Rachel Burchfield
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe