Cursing and Mental Health (I Swear it’s Good for You)

Disclaimer: Before we go any further I want to emphasize that the Heads Up Teens Team and I do not condone the use of cursing as a malicious tool for division or verbal abuse.

Growing up I think most of us were taught not to curse and were even given goofy alternatives like “H-E-doubly hockey sticks”, “Shut the Front Door!”, or the tried and true “Frick!”. While these did keep us out of trouble and on good terms with our teachers and parents they didn’t really express what we wanted to say in those instances, maybe for good reason. But these words simply don’t hold the many benefits curse words hold when trying to relieve stress or pain. In this article, I’m going to list some of those benefits and show you why cursing isn’t as negative as you think.

  1. Cursing can Help with Pain and Stress Relief

According to a 2009 study by Richard Stephens, a psychologist at Keele University, swearing can help people deal with pain. He was able to come to this conclusion through an experiment where participants would hold their hands in ice water. They would repeat this experiment using different variations of cursing ranging from not cursing at all to using neutral words in place of cursing to full-blown swearing. The study found that individuals who were able to swear to their heart’s content were able to hold their hands in the ice water for 50% more time than the groups who couldn’t. It was also found that during the instances when participants could swear, their heart rate went up and perception of pain went down. Meaning that they felt less pain while swearing. This is because swearing triggers one’s flight or fight response which triggers an increase in adrenaline. 

Cursing can also alleviate some mental strain by helping reduce anxiety and stress. This is backed by numerous studies that state people handle stressful situations and suffer from less toxic mental strains that stem from these situations when they are allowed to swear. A lot of research has been done regarding airplane pilots and surgeons who deal with stress on a day-to-day basis. These studies have found that surgeons and pilots who are able to swear in these high-pressure situations are able to manage and recover from these experiences better than those who can’t swear. Experts theorize that this is because swearing allows people to release their emotions in a satisfying way which prevents these harsh emotions from becoming embedded into their minds and thus affecting their mental and physical health

  1. It Boosts Confidence and Self-Esteem

Swearing can help boost your self-esteem and confidence through its ability to empower oneself. This is because, during challenging or hostile situations, swearing can provide an easy way to show that you can control the situation and aren’t going to be a victim of the moment. This can lead to a clearer mind when tackling confrontations, challenges, and other stressors in one’s life. Being able to conquer these situations leads to higher confidence and self-efficacy, a psychology term that means one’s belief in their ability to complete a future task. Having a high self-efficacy when it comes to stressful or hostile situations can lead to more happy endings, fewer regrets, and overall a healthier mental psyche.

  1. Can Help Strengthen Relationships

This one might come as a surprise for most of you but cursing can actually be a way of creating and strengthening friendships. Now I know what you’re thinking, usually, if you curse at someone it’s in a negative way, but sometimes swearing can be a great way to break the ice. Swearing around another person rather than at them is a great way to show that you’re comfortable around them and brings a sense of vulnerability as curse words can be used to express emotions that most other words can’t. For example, cursing can convey a deep sense of passion which can strengthen relationships if that passion is shared amongst the group. Cursing is also a great way to introduce a sense of humor in an otherwise tense situation. However, it’s best to make sure that you make sure the other person isn’t offended by cursing. 

With all that being said I hope you were able to gain a little bit of insight into why I think the conventional way of believing cursing isn’t entirely negative.

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