How To Curb Complaining And Boost Your Mental Health

Words are powerful, and we're all likely familiar with the notion that we might just become what we think about the most. Complaining may feel like a much-needed release in the moment, but does it ultimately accomplish much? Often, complaining about the minor inconveniences or annoyances of life leaves us feeling depleted, down, and unmotivated. If you've spent much time around a chronic complainer, you likely know how draining it can be. This isn't to say that tough circumstances don't warrant complaining or that toxic positivity is the answer; there just might be a healthier avenue to problem-solving than venting, per Tiny Buddha.


"With complaining, nothing seems good enough; finding the fault in a situation becomes the norm. Complaining may lead to expecting the worst and disappointment," said Adam D. Borland, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, in an interview with Shape.

It's easy to slip into thought patterns of negativity, so we must be diligent and use conscious awareness to weed out the thoughts that just aren't worth watering.

Use your pause button and shift your energy

Learning to utilize the pause button and take a moment before complaining, venting, judging, assuming, or accusing can truly alter your experience of daily life. This is easier said than done — as most of us have a lifetime worth of impulse rewiring to do. But, if you can train your mind to pause, take a deep breath, and shift into a different energy, you might just find that your problem isn't as big as you initially felt it was. Even going for a brisk walk after receiving some bad news or encountering a stressful conflict can diffuse the situation greatly and boost your mental health (via Shape).


Examining the larger picture takes a certain amount of calm — and, let's be honest, emotional maturity. But if you can accomplish this and maybe even practice some gratitude while you're pressing your pause button, chances are you'll be feeling much lighter, per Health Essentials.

If your pause button just isn't working right, confiding in a trusted friend or affordable therapist who has the capacity to hear your worries and concerns is generally a safe bet. Another option is to write down and air all your complaints in journal pages. Or, you could make it into a game. 

Take up a no complaining challenge

Attempting to avoid all complaining and negative comments for a set amount of time will not only increase feelings of well-being, but it'll also reveal how much time you actually do spend complaining –- which may not be a very pretty reality check. You might've heard of the 30-day "no complaining challenge" (via Success), where you place a rubber band on your wrist, and every time you complain, you move it to the other wrist -– and start all over again. With the goal being to not move the rubber band at all, this practice is the ultimate push in mental positivity and while it can be frustrating at first, eventually understanding that we do, indeed, have power over our words and thoughts is quite a confidence booster. If 30 days feels way too intimidating, start with a three-day challenge and work your way up.


"We tend to focus on things that are not right, rather than attending to all of the rightness around us," said psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD, in an interview with Cleveland Clinic. Who knows what beauty you'll experience with all that time spent not complaining?