Why science says swearing is good for your mental health

As Australians, we take swearing a little less seriously than some other cultures and the bloody good thing about that is, now science says it’s OK too! In fact, research suggests being foul mouthed has some genuine holistic benefits.

“We’ve been socialized to believe that swearing is universally really bad, but it isn’t always about being aggressive, or overwhelmingly negative towards people,” says author Emma Byrne, of the book Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language.

Swearing can be defined as the use of offensive language, however when Australians swear, the meaning of the word is all based on context. For example, if you’re running late to see your mother-in-law and you stub your toe – yelling F*#$! isn’t directed at anyone, but may relieve some pent-up stress for a moment or two…

The fact that we instinctively curse when we are in pain is probably because we know it helps – so now you have pretty strong evidence to stop being a Ned Flanders and start being a Glenn Quagmire.

Research shows that your body has an emotional release when you swear in stressful situations, similar to crying when you’re sad. This research also suggests that people in tense circumstances are able to handle themselves better and suffer less from toxic stress if you tell them they can swear, while people who are told not to swear perform worse when faced with a challenge. The research to support this was actually conducted in operating rooms on surgeons and hey, if it helps them get through a major surgery, I’d say we’re happy to let them cuss away!

Words have an emotional impact and swearing can help expel these emotions from your body. This is great for your mental and physical health as it stops negative feelings and thoughts from festering internally. Swearing can also overcome obstacles to cognitive processes which assists in your ability to problem-solve and unclutter thinking.

“The health benefits of swearing include increased circulation, elevated endorphins, and an overall sense of calm, control and well-being,” Neel Burton, author of Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotionswrote.

It is important not to suppress but to embrace and process issues, which can be done by swearing for some people; offering a release in the moment.

Our emotions are very real things with a tangible physical and biochemical presence, and no matter how much you try not to let them effect you, they aren’t going away anytime soon. So you may as well get creative with your profanities and have fun with it, because it may just help you get out of your next tough situation!