Embracing Negative Emotions Improves Mental Health

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Scientists reveal that embracing sadness makes people feel better in the long run, according to a study published on August 10, 2017.

Researchers from the Psychology Department at UC Berkeley, reveal that pressure to feel upbeat can make a person feel more downbeat, which has negative effects on health in the long run.

“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health. Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention. And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.” said Iris Mauss, lead author of the study.

They tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in over 1,300 adults in San Francisco. They found that those who commonly deny their darkest emotions, or avoid acknowledging them can end up feeling more psychologically stressed.

They also found that in contrast to this, people who generally allow themselves to feel bleak feelings such as sadness, disappointment, and resentment whenever they faced these feelings, had reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who were more critical about them.

“It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being. People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.” said Brett Ford, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

Further research is required to understand the factors involved in enabling people to accept various emotions, such as culture and upbringing.

Mauss said, “By asking parents about their attitudes about their children’s emotions, we may be able to predict how their children feel about their emotions, and how that might affect their children’s mental health.” This could help understand and even improve the way people perceive negative and positive emotions.


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