Does Cursing Relieve Stress?

I try very hard to keep my language clean because when I hear someone using a lot of foul language, I subconsciously assume that they have a lower intelligence level. But we have all used a curse word or two when we are physically hurt, frustrated, or caught off guard. But when we swear to express our negative feelings, does it actually make us feel better?

According to researchers at Keele University, enraged yelling (and swearing) raises your heart rate, which triggers a fight-or-flight response. They conducted a study in which men held their hands in ice water- first using profanity and then not using profanity. “When they used strong language, they were able to keep their hands in longer.” In this study, swearing in a time of pain was more effective for people who didn’t normally use profanity than for people who used it on a daily basis, which means that people who use profanity often become desensitized to its effects. So if you’re looking for a way to raise your pain tolerance in a time of need, don’t swear daily. Save it for certain circumstances where it is necessary and appropriate.

Images from

Images from

Not only can cursing relieve and help you cope with pain, but it can also be good for you, according to Scientific American. Psychologist Richard Stevens says, “I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear.” The brain links obscenities with emotion. When you are able to express your emotions, you are able to cope with them better. This video suggests that cursing can lead to a feeling of camaraderie and a closer connection to other people, which also relieves stress, especially in the workplace. Think about it- when a professor uses a swear word during a lecture, that can sometimes lead to a feeling that the professor is down-to-earth and humanizes them when they can often feel separated from the class because of their position. I agree with the statement that using a curse word or two and make people feel slightly more comfortable around each other and can create an aura of a relaxed environment. Being someone who does not curse often, I also agree with the theory that cursing once in awhile when necessary helps with pain tolerance and stress. So the text time you stub your toe, try a curse word or two if it’s appropriate and see if it helps you deal with the pain. Sometimes, a deep breath can work just as well.


So we’ve ruled out that cursing relieves you from a stressful situation, whether that be mildly injuring yourself or finding out that you have a paper due the next day that you didn’t start. If cursing relieves stress, then it must be good for your health. The x- variable in this hypothesis is the swearing and the y-variable for this hypothesis is the pain and how much results from the swearing. Possible z- variables include how much the person swears on a day to day basis, the intensity of the pain, the type of stress on the person, and if they are ashamed of swearing in that situation or not. As far as studies for this theory goes, all of the sources that I have looked into for my research all refer to the same hand-submerging-in-ice water study, so this theory needs to be further tested before any real conclusions can be drawn. But as far as personal experience goes, I believe that a curse word here and there when I am under intense stress does relieve a certain amount of stress that helps me to cope with the situation for the time being. Cursing has no long-term effect on health, only short term.

2 thoughts on “Does Cursing Relieve Stress?

  1. Ryan Edward Schmidt

    A few years ago I watched a mythbuster’s episode discussing the relationship between cursing and pain tolerance. Their findings were similar to yours, that swearing may actually increase a person’s pain tolerance. It is rather odd to think that it may be true, but often when I do something painful, such as stub my toe, it is nearly instinct to let a curse word slip. Maybe this is the bodies way of reducing pain? If you are interested in watching part of the episode check out the link below:

  2. Elyssa Paige Woods

    I did some research on this topic because I never really gave this idea much of a thought. I discovered the same information as you. In one of the articles I found, swearing can increase pain tolerance due to the fact that it triggers the fight-or-flight response in individuals. So I guess now there is a reason to swear in certain situation and have a “dirty” mouth can actually be beneficial.

Comments are closed.