I Need to Vent: Where To Turn
By: Robert Porter
Updated March 16, 2020
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 for the rest of your life. According to psychopharmacologist Candice Pert, humans store pent-up negative emotions in their very cells and tissues, eventually causing disease. You don't need to proclaim your emotions and anxieties through a megaphone to be heard as 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 and you don't want to continue to bottle things up. When you ignore your feelings, you're often going to be doing yourself a disservice. It winds up being like ignoring a leaky roof. You might think that having a small leak isn't a big deal, but these problems tend to get worse when they're ignored. Your negative feelings can fester and turn into larger problems when left unchecked.
You aren't alone in dealing with issues like this and many people need an outlet to vent. There are many ways you can help yourself vent as well, so please take a look at the following information to see what some of your options are.
Know Who to Trust
Your first instinct is likely going to be to talk to friends. This is a good idea, but you should put some thought into things before proceeding. You want to be sure that you can truly trust whomever you're talking to. No one wants their personal business to get spread around and the things that you're venting about are likely of a deeply personal nature.
Not everyone is, nor should 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 support system tend to be mentally and physically healthier than their peers who lack one. Research has revealed that people who do not have a strong support system are 50% more likely to die from heart disease than those who 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 a strong bond. But if you take a genuine interest in the lives of others and they can see that you truly care, they will reciprocate the care and concern. To get love, you must first give love.
Join A Support Group
If you have an addiction, chronic disease, or a storied relationship history, you can join a support group designed just for you. Look for a support group that is based on a topic near and dear to your heart so that you can meet people who have overcome similar woes. 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 Friendship
Having close friends or family members that you can open up to and vent to is a true blessing. We all have times when we just need someone who cares about us to listen and validate how we are feeling. 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 friend the same respect in return by asking her questions about her life and letting her know that you are there to listen if she ever needs to vent.
Also, don't just assume your friend has the time to listen, rather ask first. If there is a big problem you need to talk about, ask your friend if she has the time. She will be a much better support for you if you are respectful of her time and appreciative of her listening ear.
Try Other Coping Skills First
If you consistently and immediately turning to someone else to vent to when you experience a problem, you may be relying too much on other people to help you solve your problems. Try utilizing other coping skills first before you turn to a friend to vent, this way you can clear your head, calm down, and think about what you specifically want to share. One idea is to get some anger out by doing something active like going for a walk or run, dancing, or going to the gym. This can release endorphins that will help you feel less angry and it will help you think more clearly before you just go and vent to someone.
Another idea is to do something that will distract you that you enjoy doing. Listen to some music, watch a funny television show, go shopping…anything to take your mind off the problem and give you time to calm down. In addition, try doing something relaxing, like taking a warm bath, meditating, or practicing mindfulness to give you some time to calm down before you vent to someone. All of these things will help you put yourself in a better frame of mind and help you feel more in control before you turn to a friend or family member. You don't want them to feel burned out by your venting.
Avoid turning to social media to vent. Often when we are feeling upset about something, it's tempting to immediately turn to social media to vent our frustrations. If you do this too often people will get tired and begin to feel like you complain too much. Then they will not be as supportive of you when you really need it.
There is a healthier way to use social media. First of all, just give it some time before you post something. A lot of times even waiting ten minutes will help you calm down enough to think about what you actually want to share.
Also, focus on what you can solve on your own before venting to others and before you expect others to come up with solutions for you. Yes, it is great to get other ideas and perspectives on things, but sometimes when you vent you may end up getting more opinions than you asked for and that can leave you feeling even more overwhelmed. On the contrary, you may not get any responses and then end up feeling worse. So just be selective of what you share on social media and try other things first.
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 more healthy and positive. Also, a therapist can help you understand and process your feelings and emotions and teach you effective ways to solve your own problems instead of relying on other people to solve your problems or make you feel better.
An online therapist is a nonjudgmental, caring individual who wants you to be as fulfilled as possible - and healthy venting is a part of that. Online therapy will allow you to release emotions and anxieties so that they no longer burden you. Rather than risking mental or physical dysfunction caused by pent-up negativity, turn to an online therapist to vent your frustrations and hurts. Below are two Betterhelp counselor reviews from people who have dealt with a similar issue.
"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!"
What does it mean when someone needs to vent?
When someone vents, they let out any strong emotions they feel, or say something that's on their mind that they've wanted to say for a long time. Sometimes, this means they speak to someone about their feelings. Other times, they may write down their feelings somewhere. Many people would say that this is better than bottling up emotions.
Is it healthy to vent?
If you look this up, you can find all kinds of articles. Some say that venting is perfectly healthy, while others will say that venting should not be done and just makes things worse. Then, you have the articles saying that it all depends, which we believe.
If you're venting because you bottled up your emotions, you should not bottle up your emotions in the future. Express how you feel, or write them down. It also depends on the person. For some, getting things off their chest can feel oh so relieving, but for others, it can just make everything stay in one's mind for longer.
If you do vent, talk to someone you trust and express how you feel. Make sure you don't let them feel like they're to blame.
How do you vent?
Venting just involves expressing your emotions and feelings, usually that are all bottled up, to a friend, family member, online, or to yourself. Just get everything off your chest.
There isn't really an art to venting, but it's important that you don't go too overboard. Some people vent all the time, and that can have the opposite effect. Others may use their friends and family members as their people they go to when they vent, but that may end up with you using them a little too much.
Do it occasionally, and make it count. Then, make sure you find other ways to express your emotions as well. You'll be glad you did.
What are healthy ways to vent?
There are many ways to vent in a healthy manner. Here are a few of them.
- When you are venting to your friends or family, make sure you don't sound too angry or emotional and make it seem like you are mad at them. Express your situation as calmly as possible.
- Write them down in a diary or post. A good idea is to turn your writings into art. Perhaps you can make a story out of your venting.
- Have a good cry. Sometimes, letting out all your emotions through crying is a good way for you to reboot yourself and start over.
- Seek the help of a therapist. A qualified therapist can teach you ways to vent in a way that is healthy for you.
Is venting the same as complaining?
Some people may say that venting and complaining are the same, but that's not true. There are a few differences between these two.
Venting is the brief release of your feelings. When you vent, there's often something that you need to get off your chest, and venting is how you do it. It's a brief release that you need when you have your feelings bottled up.
Meanwhile, complaining is passive and is done more. Complaining also demands change more than venting does. Venting tends to be more consensual as well. You may ask someone if you can vent, while you may complain to someone constantly without them asking.
Why is venting bad?
Venting can be beneficial to some, but it can have some negative effects as well depending on the person. Here are some negative consequences of venting:
- Venting encourages you to bottle up your feelings and then release them in one blow, which is not a long-term way to express your feelings. Expressing how you feel as it comes along, sometimes through healthy ways like writing, is a better alternative.
- While venting is often described as getting something off your chest, this isn't the case for everyone. Some people find that venting just made the problem worse because they're thinking about it more.
- Venting can put a burden on your friends and family. While a good friend or family member should want to listen to you vent on occasion, they're not your therapist, and if you find that you're using a friend or family member like a therapist, then seek the help of a real therapist who is licensed.
How do I stop venting?
Venting on occasion isn't bad, but if you always express your emotions through venting, that can be a bit problematic. Here are some ways to vent less.
- Try to write down your emotions as they come along.
- Express your feelings if possible. Do not keep them bottled up.
- Have a safe place and good people to vent whenever you can. For example, instead of venting to your friends or coworkers, speak with a therapist, or go on an online forum where venting is the center of everything.
- Learn to identify any triggers that make you want to vent. Write down everything that annoys you and see if you can be able to avoid these triggers, or tolerate them if possible.
How do you respond to someone who is venting?
If someone you know is venting to you, how do you let them vent in a healthy manner?
The first step is to be an active listener. Don't try to take over the conversation and offer all kinds of advice; this is just going to make things a lot worse. However, don't be too silent. Repeat the premise of what they tell you, express sympathy, maybe offer your opinion at the end, but don't make it too much about you.
The second step is to make it clear that while you're open to listen to them, it's important they seek help or find a solution to their problems. You are not their therapist, after all. You have to strike that balance between empathetic, but also not someone who is being used as a tool for venting.
It's so important to be able to vent and to build a good support system. Avoid letting negative emotions build up and you'll be able to be a much happier person overall. Take the first step today.