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Stop Your Complaining!

No one likes to hang around someone who constantly whines and moans. It may seem harmless to vent your frustrations, but if vocalizing your negative sentiments becomes a habit, it can have some pretty harmful consequences. Obviously, constant complaining can bring down your mood and not to mention the mood of the others around you, it can also have a large impact on your brain functioning, and it can even take a toll on your body as well, it can also have a large impact on your brain functioning, and it can even take a toll on your body as well.

Are you a constant complainer?

If you do any of the follow you may want to re evaluate your outlook on life.

  • You always see the glass as half-empty.

  • You find flaws in everything and everyone.

  • People refer to you as Eyeore for your gloomy outlook.

  • Barriers are all you see ahead of you.

  • People are avoiding you.

Your body is less than impressed as well!

When you complain, you increase your levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Chronically high levels of cortisol can lead to a variety of health problems, including increased risk of depression, digestive problems, sleep issues, higher blood pressure and even increased risk of heart disease.

Complaining is not only bad in the moment, but it can be detrimental in the long run. Recent studies show that psychological stress is causing an overuse of this powerful safety system, weakening our immune system and causing disease to set into our body. Yikes, negative thinking is causing more harm to our bodies and brain than we realize.

Our amazing brain has evolved to make decisions and respond quickly to threats for our safety and survival.  When we stress, worry or have negative thinking, we trick our brains into believing that there is an immediate threat. As a result, our fight or flight response kicks in to deal with the event.

Our brains are pre-wired to respond to negative thoughts and feelings more quickly. When we think positively, our brain assumes that everything is under control and no action is needed.

What's my brain think about all this complaining?

Neurologically speaking, think of it this way: Synapses that fire, wire together. Every time you complain, your brain physically rewires itself to make it easier and more likely for that reaction —the type of thought — to occur again. Negative thinking ends up breeding more negative thinking. MRI scans show that constant complaining can lead to the shrinking of the hippocampus, the region in your brain responsible for cognitive functioning. A smaller hippocampus leads to a decline in memory and the ability to adapt to new situations, among other functions. Journal of Clinical Psychology studied the effects of worrying on performing a task. Subjects were required to sort things into two categories. People who reported that they worry 50% of the time or more showed a significant disruption in their ability to sort objects as the difficulty of the sorting task increased. In a follow up study, researchers found they were able to show that demonstrated that the disruption was a result of increased levels of negative thoughts. When the brain is faced with complex tasks, negative thinking hurts your ability to process information and think clearly.

If the researchers are correct, thinking negatively about your problems not only doesn’t help solve anything, it actually makes it harder for you to think of a helpful solution. You can read more about how thinking positively affects your brain health here.

Amygdala, Memory and Negative Thinking:

If you have a tendency to over-react to stress, it could be due to changes in your brain brought on by negative thinking. Negative experiences are stored in the brain by the amygdala. The amygdala is also responsible for the brain’s fight or flight response. The prefrontal cortex regulates our response to stressors. Someone who is faced with a stressful situation like being in a traffic jam normally assesses the level of threat to their safety and concludes that the threat is less than the annoyance factor and talks themselves through relaxing until it is over. In contrast, someone who has been previously exposed to stress that was life-threatening and is suffering from PTSD might see the traffic jam as a threat to their safety and respond as if they are under attack. They lack the ability to distinguish between the true threat and the perceived stress and over-react.

How The Thalamus Understands Stress:

The thalamus is responsible to sending sensory and motor signals to the rest of the body but it does not understand that negative thoughts aren’t the same as real danger. When you think negative thoughts, the thalamus assumes that it needs to prepare the body to flee. As a result, our bodies experience real stress symptoms of rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and a state of heightened arousal.

Imagine just sitting quietly and suddenly having the physical symptoms of fear. You can sense your heart rate increase, your breathing increases, you perspire, and your blood pressure goes up. You start looking for the cause of the symptoms, but when there is no rational explanation for the fear response it is the thalamus causing you to have a panic attack. Negative thoughts affect our brain by triggering this same stress response. Chronic stress affects the body physically and can have negative effects on our health and well-being.

Of course we are all going to have bad days. Life is stressful no matter how hard you try to avoid it. You can't control other people's behavior,thoughts or feelings, you can only control your reaction. Your diet is not only what you eat. It is what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang out with and the things you subject your ind and soul to. Always be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually, and physically.


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