Want to stay stress-free? Don’t fight negative emotions, accept them
A new study has found that people who resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or are too hard on themselves, end up feeling more psychologically stressed.Updated: Aug 14, 2017 13:43 IST
A study has found that people who resist their negative emotions are more likely to experience stress, while those who embrace their darker moods feel better.
“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health,” said Iris Mauss, an associate professor at University of California, Berkeley in the US.
Researchers tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults.
They found that people who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed. By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months, researchers said.
“It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well- being,” said Brett Ford, assistant professor at University of Toronto in Canada.
“People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully,” Ford said.
Researchers conducted three separate studies on various groups both in the lab and online, and factored in age, gender, socio-economic status and other demographic variables.
In the first study, more than 1,000 participants filled out surveys rating how strongly they agreed with such statements as “I tell myself I should not be feeling the way that I am feeling.”
Researchers found that those who, as a rule, did not feel bad about their negative emotions showed higher levels of well-being than their less accepting peers.
In the second study, more than 150 participants were tasked with delivering a three-minute videotaped speech to a panel of judges as part of a mock job application, touting their communication skills and other relevant qualifications. They were given two minutes to prepare.
After completing the task, participants rated their emotions about the ordeal. Researchers found that the group that typically avoids negative feelings reported more distress than their more accepting peers.
In the final study, more than 200 people journalled about their most taxing experiences over a two-week period. When surveyed about their psychological health six months later, the diarists who typically avoided negative emotions reported more mood disorder symptoms than their nonjudgmental peers.
The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
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First Published: Aug 14, 2017 13:41 IST