Talking and Listening – How Venting Can Help You Reduce and Manage Stress

Have you ever noticed that certain actions tend to make you feel better? No- I’m not talking about that tack that was ‘misplaced’ and left on your annoying co-worker’s chair. What I’m talking about are other forms of expression such as venting. Telling your spouse about a long day at work or complaining to a good friend about how your dog chewed up your new pair of shoes are good examples.

As is often the case, words have power. In the case of speaking, it’s the power to make you feel better while acting as a form of stress relief. In fact, a study about disclosing traumas found that doing so benefitted the mind and body in many ways. When you express your problems and negative emotions to someone you trust, you not only reduce stress but also boost your immune system and decrease both physical and emotional pain [1]. For many, it may come as a surprise to learn that simply talking about our problems can help us heal.

struggling to talk about problems

Yet, for some, talking about difficult or stressful topics may not come easy. As friends and family, we should try to be aware of those around us who look stressed or distraught and be willing to lend an ear if needed. Sometimes it’s easier for someone to tell us about their problems when asked than to do so unprompted. It can also be easy to become so wrapped up in our issues and problems that we fail to recognize when others need help. That said, sometimes we have too much going on in our own lives to mentally endure someone else’s troubles and that’s ok. In either case, consider these words of wisdom from American author Leo Buscaglia-

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” [2]

So, the next time you hear a coworker complaining about an erroneously placed tack, consider taking a moment to listen to their woes. And if you’re feeling stressed, be sure to talk to a friend or a loved one and tell them about what’s going on in your life. Express yourself, let those negative emotions go, and you’ll be all the better for it.
[1] Pennebaker, J W et al. “Disclosure of traumas and immune function: health implications for psychotherapy.” Journal of consulting and clinical psychology vol. 56,2 (1988): 239-45. doi:10.1037//0022-006x.56.2.239
[2] "Leo Buscaglia Quotes." BrainyMedia Inc, 2021. 13 May 2021.

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