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Venting To A Friend Can Make You Feel Worse, Says New Study. We Say Bullsh*t

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The key to surviving motherhood? A night out with friends. With it comes wine, laughter, more wine, heart-to-hearts and, of course, good ol’ venting. There are few things more therapeutic than bitching about your kids or husband or even your cellulite to your closest group of friends (you know, the ones who ‘get’ it). That’s not say we spend our entire evening bitching – far from it – but part of the realness I enjoy so much about these evenings out is the ability to speak my mind without feeling judged (and knowing that I’m not alone in my frustrations).

But now a new study says that venting to a friend about everyday stresses may cause you to feel even worse. When people with perfectionist tendencies faced daily setbacks, venting to a friend often made them feel less satisfied about their circumstances than before they talked about it. The study, published in the journal Anxiety, Stress & Coping, involved 149 Kent students with perfectionist traits and looked at their daily setbacks, what strategies they used to cope  and how satisfied they felt at the end of the day. Coping strategies included social support, self-distraction, denial, religion, venting, substance use, self-blame and withdrawing.

Those using social support, denial, venting, withdrawing and self-blame felt worse instead of better, researchers concluded. Meanwhile, people who used acceptance, humor and positive reframing (looking for the silver lining, in other words) felt better at the end of the day.

“It’s no use ruminating about small failures and setbacks and [dragging] yourself further down,” said study author Dr. Joachim Stoeber, a psychologist at the University of Kent in England, to the Daily Mail. “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.”

But here’s what I don’t understand: doesn’t venting always lead to laughter? The past few times I’ve gone out for dinner with three close friends (two of them moms), the cab ride to the restaurant almost always entails a major bitch-fest usually having to do with the drama involved with actually getting out of the house. We vent and whine and vent some more, then proceed to have the best night ever (it happens every time without fail). It’s always reassuring to know I’m not the only one who had a stressful day and that I’m not the only one who had a huge fight with my husband five minutes before walking out the door. So, to these researchers who say venting is a bad thing, I say no way. Just the opposite: it’s vital to surviving parenthood. Just ask any mom.

(Photo: Creatas)