What does complaining do to your brain?

Complaining is something that we all do. On average, a person complains once throughout a typical conversation. Ask yourself the following question: How many times have I complained today? In most cases, it’s innumerable.

So what exactly is complaining? Complaining is more or less expressing dissatisfaction or resentment. Some people will use the excuse “I’m just venting!”, but in reality, complaining has a large toll on our brains, and henceforth our happiness.

'I'm afraid your complaining is chronic.' - 'I want a second opinion!!'

‘I’m afraid your complaining is chronic.’ – ‘I want a second opinion!!’

Our brains are similar to us as humans in the sense that they too do not want to work any harder than they have to. Repeating behaviors, such as complaining, causes your neurons to branch out to each other and make information more easily transferred. So this makes it easier for you to complain more, without even realizing you’re doing it. Complaining also shrinks your hippocampus, according to research from Stanford University, an area used in problem solving and memory.

Complaining is also bad for your health. When you complain, your body releases more of the hormone that shifts a human into fight-or-flight mode, the hormone known as cortisol. This directs oxygen, blood, and energy from any system that is not crucial to survival. Frequent complaining results in extra cortisol being released, which puts a person more at risk for high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and strokes.

So what can we do to stop ourselves from complaining? Every time you find yourself making a negative observation, make a positive one instead. It is recommended that a person takes time to think about what they’re grateful for. Doing this can reduce cortisol by 23%, according to research at the University of California, Davis. Decreasing the amount you complain will have an overall more positive impact on your health. So why not start today?

Works Cited

“What Complaining Does To Your Brain… And Your Happiness.” Woopaah, 23 September 2015. http://www.woopaah.com/blog/2015/9/23/what-complaining-does-to-your-brain-and-your-happiness.html. Accessed 21 October 2016.

Bradberry, Travis. “How Complaining Rewires Your Brain For Negativity.” Entrepreneur, 9 September 2016. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/281734. Accessed 21 October 2016.

“New studies of human brains show stress may shrink neurons.” Stanford News Service, 14 August 1996. http://news.stanford.edu/pr/96/960814shrnkgbrain.html. Accessed 21 October 2016.

“Gratitude is Good Medicine.” UC Davis Medical Center, 25 November 2015. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/medicalcenter/features/2015-2016/11/20151125_gratitude.html. Accessed 21 October 2016.

5 thoughts on “What does complaining do to your brain?

  1. Michael Mandarino

    This was really interesting to read. I also find that in addition to complaining, talking badly about other people can have similarly negative consequences to complaining about the world in general. Over the past year I’ve tried to not “talk crap” about other people as much because of that – interesting to see that complaining has negative effects on a person’s brain. Thanks for sharing

  2. Meaghan Elizabeth Simone

    Oh wow, this was actually really interesting to read. I had no idea that complaining like that could actually deteriorate your health – I just thought that it was an annoying quirk all people do! As a person who complains a lot, I’m definitely going to make some lifestyle changes. I guess positive vibes really are good for your health!

  3. Alexandra Nicole Iaccino

    This is a very interesting topic that I never really considered before. I admit that I complain many times throughout the day, which I never realized could have such bad effects on my health. This post gave me new insight that i will use to try to stay more positive and complain less.

  4. Jason Schwartz

    This is a very good topic and interesting to read. Every day I try to be a genuine as possible and as positive as I can to everyone around me. I feel like this affects my mood everyday, because the more positive vibes I spread I feel more of it back to me. Overall im glad to learn from your article what I was doing is beneficial too.

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