Venting your sorrows to a friend may make you feel worse

London: It`s often said that sorrows become bearable when shared. But, a new study has now claimed that venting to a friend about stressful events of your daily life may not always be helpful.

Researchers at the University of Kent in the UK found that when people with some traits of perfectionism faced daily setbacks, venting to a friend often made them feel less satisfied about their circumstances than before.

Instead, through acceptance and positive reframing, one can deal with the setbacks more effectively, they found.

"It`s no use ruminating about small failures and setbacks and [dragging] yourself further down," study author Dr Joachim Stoeber, a Kent psychologist, said.

"Instead, it is more helpful to try to accept what happened, look for positive aspects and -- if it is a small thing -- have a laugh about it," he was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

For the study, the researchers recruited 149 students with perfectionist traits. The participants completed daily diary reports for three to 14 days, noting the most bothersome failure they experienced each day, what strategies they used to cope with the failure and how satisfied they felt at the end of the day.

Their coping strategies included using social support, self-distraction, denial, religion, venting, substance use, self-blame and withdrawing.

Of these, using social support, denial, venting, withdrawing, and self-blame made students feel worse instead of better, the researchers found.

The more the students used these strategies to cope, the less satisfied they felt at the end of the day, they said.

In contrast, the more students used positive reframing, acceptance and humour, the better they felt at the end of the day, found the study to be published in the journal Anxiety, Stress & Coping.

Dr Stoeber noted that the study`s focus on people who have a perfectionist personality was significant, because they are generally less satisfied than others with daily setbacks.

Social psychologist Brad Bushman, who teaches at Ohio State University, said: "Venting is not an effective strategy for anyone trying to cope with daily stress, whether they have perfectionistic tendencies or not."

"Research clearly shows that venting increases rather than decreases stress," Bushman, who has researched aggression and coping, but was not involved in this study, said.

Venting actually creates more stress "because it keeps arousal levels high, aggressive thoughts active in memory, and angry feelings alive", Bushman added.

Dr Stoeber said that a helpful recommendation for anyone trying to cope with daily setbacks would be to try to find positive aspects and think of what happened in a more positive way; for example, by focusing on what has been achieved, rather than on what has not been achieved.


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