I Need to Vent: Where To Turn
By: Robert Porter
Updated February 11, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Stephanie Deaver, LCSW
If you need to vent, then you aren't the only one. At one point or another, everyone needs to release inner turmoil and emotions. Without the willingness or the ability to vent, you may carry negative emotions around with you. According to psychopharmacologist Candice Pert, humans store pent-up negative emotions in their very cells and tissues, which can eventually cause declines in physical health. However, you don't need to proclaim your emotions and anxieties through a megaphone to be heard; there are many healthy ways to set these emotions and anxieties free.
The Importance Of Letting It Out
Letting out your emotions is very important. When you ignore your feelings, you do yourself a disservice. Think of this ignoring like having a leaky roof: you might think that having a small leak isn't a big deal, but it can quickly grow worse if it is ignored and allowed to weaken its surroundings. Your negative feelings can fester and turn into larger problems if left unchecked.
You aren't alone in dealing with pent-up emotions. Everyone needs an outlet to vent. You can give yourself adequate space to vent your emotions by employing several strategies:
Know Whom To Trust
Your first instinct is likely going to be to talk to your loved ones, which is a good idea, but you should put some thought into your conversation partners before proceeding. You want to be sure that you can truly trust whomever you're talking with.
Not everyone is, nor should they be, a trusted confidant. Know who your trustworthy friends are by entrusting them with a little information at a time. If this information becomes public gossip, you know not to trust them with bigger issues. Protect yourself from embarrassment and frustration by voicing your emotions and concerns to trustworthy people.
Build A Support System
People who have a robust emotional support system tend to be mentally and physically healthier than their peers who lack one. Research has revealed that people who have a strong support system are at significantly lower risk of fatal heart disease than those who do not have adequate support. In addition, people who have been diagnosed with a chronic disease are able to better manage symptoms with the help of positive relationships.
Ironically, to build a support system, you must first support others. If you approach people with a me-centered, consumerist perspective, you are less likely to form strong reciprocal bonds. On the other hand, if you take a genuine interest in the lives of others, and they can see that you truly care, they will reciprocate your care and concern. To get love, you should first give love.
Join A Support Group
If you have are living with a substance use disorder, a chronic disease, or a history of difficult relationships, you can join a support group designed just for you. A simple web search can lead you to a local or online community that is built around shared experiences. When you start from a place of commonality, it is easier to form a lasting bond.
Journaling has proven mental and physical benefits. The best part about journaling is that you can do it anywhere at any time. It is a healthy, easy-to-implement coping mechanism. And when you write down your fears and negative emotions, you don't have to worry about the possibility of judgment or criticism from others. Some studies have shown that regular gratitude journaling (or jotting down your blessings) can be as effective as antidepressants in managing the symptoms of depression.
Ensure Balance In Your Friendships
Having close friends or family members whom you feel able to confide in can make all the difference. We all have times when we just need someone who cares to listen and validate our feelings. However, what you don't want to do is ruin your friendship by complaining too much or by being too negative. It's important to balance venting with other positive interactions as well. Make sure you have plenty of uplifting conversations and spend time doing enjoyable things together. Show your loved ones the same respect in return by asking them questions about their lives and letting them know that you are there to listen if they ever need to vent.
Also, don't assume a friend always has ample time to listen, but instead, ask first. If you need to talk about a big problem, ask your friend if they have the time. They will be able to provide better support if you are respectful and appreciative of their time.
Try Other Coping Skills First
If you consistently and immediately turn to someone else when you experience a problem, you may be relying too much on other people to help you solve personal problems. Try using other coping skills first before you turn to a friend to vent; this way, you can clear your head and think about what specifically you wish to share. Coping skills can include the following:
- Getting Active: Burn off negative emotions by doing something physical, like taking a walk or a run, dancing it out, or going to the gym. The resulting endorphins will help you regulate your emotions and think more clearly.
- Taking Your Mind Off The Problem: It isn’t avoidance to give yourself a break while you calm down. Listen to music, watch a favorite movie or television show, take time for a relaxing bath or other self-care, or practice mindfulness techniques. Any of these activities can help you calm down and feel more in control before you vent to a loved one.
- Stay Off Social Media: When we feel upset about something, it can be tempting to turn to social media to vent our frustrations. However, this can be counterproductive to your ability to solve the problem, and it may create new problems in the form of airing your anger-tinged thoughts in a public place—to family members, employers, acquaintances, and even perfect strangers. Venting social media posts can also wear on loved ones who follow you on social media; they may even feel preempted and be less willing to engage and listen if they heard your problem first through a social media account instead of straight from you.
- Listen To Yourself First: Focus on what you can solve on your own, instead of immediately asking others for solutions. Sometimes, when you vent to others, you may end up with more potential solutions and opinions than you need, and that glut of information can be overwhelming. Give yourself time to mull over possible answers to a problem, and then take your most likely actions to a trusted loved one for their opinion before you decide. Empower yourself to solve problems in your life.
If You Need To Vent, Talk To An Online Therapist
It's important to keep clear boundaries when venting to a friend or loved one. You don't want to end up treating them like a therapist. If you are able to vent to a therapist first, you will find that your other relationships will be healthier and more reciprocal. Also, a licensed therapist has expertise to help you understand and process your feelings and emotions, as well as learn to solve problems independently instead of relying primarily on other people. Online therapy can be a great, flexible solution for anyone who may benefit from the validation of being listened to; in fact, the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Council of Representatives has released a resolution citing more than 50 peer-reviewed studies of the effectiveness of psychotherapy in treating a whole spectrum of mental health issues. Furthermore, online platforms like BetterHelp can provide you with the space you need to feel heard and take positive action.
You might wonder what makes online therapy so different—namely, its flexibility and accessibility. Online therapy can be arranged around your life, on a schedule that suits yours. With no need for transportation to an appointment, you can save time and hassle. The discretion of online therapy also means that you don’t need to share your mental healthcare plans with anyone, but instead can work with a nonjudgmental, caring individual who wants to help you feel fulfilled and free to tackle new issues as they arise, it can create a safe space to vent from the comfort of your home. Online therapy can help you to release unwanted emotions and anxieties in a safe space so that they will no longer burden you. Below are BetterHelp counselor reviews from users who have dealt with similar issues.
"Shelly has been my biggest support since joining BetterHelp. She is alert and attentive, knows when to talk and when I need to just vent. She allows me to express myself without fear of being criticized. She's taught me so much in such a short time and I still have much to go. I'm glad Shelley is the person beside me helping me through it all."
"It's been many months that I'm talking to Katie now. She's done so much good for me and helped me through some tough times. Even if nothing particular is up, it's great having someone who you can vent to openly. Thanks Katie!"
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