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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hofstra chapter.

If you fear being a “Negative Nancy,” try participating in a compliant cleanse. While letting out our frustrations is important, constant complaining isn’t good for your physical or mental health or the well-being of others around you.

Why do We Complain?

We complain when we feel a significant gap between expectation and reality, but it can also be a subconscious bonding technique. Because you dislike the same thing and feel the same emotion venting about shared negative experiences can foster a sense of camaraderie. However, complaining can be contagious, which means that if you are around people complaining, you’ll start complaining more, and vice versa.
Though, many people tend to confuse complaining with venting. When we complain, we want to right a wrong; for example, if you get food at a restaurant that doesn’t taste good, you are likely to complain to get a better meal. But when we’re venting, we get the frustration out of our systems, like when we’re ranting because traffic is slow.

Why COMPLAINING too much can be harmful

While complaining is healthy, too much can negatively affect our physical health. A study by Stanford in 2016 found that complaining can shrink neurons in certain parts of the brain, decreasing your brain’s ability to problem-solve. When you complain, your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, rise. Chronically high cortisol levels can lead to health problems like high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and sleep issues.

Chronic complaining has negative psychological effects; complaining rewires your brain for negativity, unhappiness, and pessimism. Repeated complaining rewires the brain, which can make future complaining more likely. Complaining also affects our relationships; negative thoughts stick out more than positive things in the brain. Negative comments and comments are more likely to stand out in people’s minds than positive ones, and complaining about relationships can lead to more negativity in loved ones.

Signs you complain too much

If you are unsure if you complain too much, here are a few signs to tell if you complain too much:

You often dwell on past events
You often feel Anxious
You feel exhausted at the end of each daY
You have a pessimistic mood and outlook on life

Pay attention to your daily communication (text, emails, etc.) to see if there is a negative theme to how you communicate. Focus on how much of your conversations’ content is focused on complaints or negativity.

Try a “Complaint Cleanse”

In an Instagram post, author and poet Cleo Wade wrote:

“Complaining is something that seems to come so easy and so naturally to us, but the problem is: complaints have no magic. They don’t make anyone’s day better, and they don’t help any situation.”

Instead of leaning into a long list of grievances, Wade encouraged her followers to let go of complaints for seven days. Gratitude can bring many benefits, like increased energy, healthier relationships, and improved sleep. The goal of a complaint cleanse yourself to complain less and adopt a more positive point of view. The complaint cleanse isn’t about cutting complaining out of your life completely. The point is to notice when a habit of complaining negatively impacts your day, relationships, and general view on life. Whenever you feel like complaining, focus on what you are grateful for.

Makayla Bryan

Hofstra '25

Makayla is a Public Relations major at Hofstra University. She spends her time listening to music, reading comic books, and shopping.