Study: Venting doesn't help... just makes you madder

The Bottom Line:

  • Venting to a friend or partner about a bad day may feel like it’s helping, but new research shows it’s not really reducing rage.
  • An analysis of more than 150 studies finds venting doesn’t help us feel less angry because it “increases physiological arousal,” by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and more.
  • To actually let go of that anger and actually feel calmer, deep breathing, meditation, yoga and even counting to 10 are the way to go.
  • Source: Newsweek

The Full Story:

When you’re having a bad day, do you vent to your bestie or partner to make yourself feel better? Lots of us do, and while it may seem like it’s helping, new research reveals it’s not really effective at reducing rage.

Researchers at The Ohio State University analyzed more than 150 studies to see what the best ways to ease anger actually are. Despite what many of us think, the science shows that venting doesn’t help people feel less angry because it “increases physiological arousal.” That involves raised heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, muscle tension and more - all the ways the body reacts in the flight-or-fight response.

So what can we do to calm down and feel less angry? The researchers found the key is doing things to reduce stress, like deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, yoga and even counting to 10. Some physical activities that people do to deal with anger, like jogging, swimming and hitting a bag, actually make it worse because they reinforce feelings of frustration.

  • "I think it's really important to bust the myth that if you're angry you should blow off steam—get it off your chest," explains senior author Brad Bushman. "Venting anger might sound like a good idea, but there's not a shred of scientific evidence to support catharsis theory."

Source: Newsweek

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