Frequent complaining may be hurting you more than you think
Maybe Thumper, the rabbit in Disney’s Bambi, was on to something when he said “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all,” (minus the double negative, of course!)
That’s because frequent complaining may actually be hurting you more than you think.
“Complaining can affect our health in multiple ways,” says Dr. Raju Mehta, chief medical resident of internal medicine at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “If you are someone who is constantly complaining, you’re likely in a bad mood more times than not. These mood disturbances can affect the way we eat, drink, sleep and even interact with others—all of which can be damaging to our health,” he says.
And, Dr. Mehta says the negativity associated with complaining can affect many body systems. “When we complain, we’re often unhappy about a certain situation in our lives. Our unhappiness and its effect on our mental health can lead to increased stress, which can cause adverse consequences on our cardiovascular, neurological and endocrine systems.
Dr. Mehta says that frequent negative thinking puts you at a greater risk for depression and an inability to cope with stressors in your life. “Stress can contribute to many health problems including hypertension, diabetes, obesity and heart disease,” he says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease was the leading cause of death in Americans in 2016, and diabetes was among the top ten causes.
But can you really stop complaining entirely? “That’s impossible,” says Dr. Mehta. “We often complain because we want to see change.” Instead, he encourages you to differentiate between what you can and cannot change.
“Let something go if you can’t change it. Try directing your mind to solutions rather than simply complaints,” explains Dr. Mehta, who says you’ll feel more motivated and experience a sense of accomplishment if you act towards fixing what you are complaining about.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.