Today’s Solutions: July 24, 2024

We’ve all had days when everything seemed to go wrong. Workplace drama or an argument with a loved one can really get us fired up. That’s where having a good old rant with a pal comes in handy. It’s an opportunity to let off steam and talk it out with someone we trust. It’s not uncommon to unload details about childhood trauma and terrible breakups to our friends in the hopes that they can make us feel better. But have you ever considered the impact that ranting can have on others who are listening?

Though friends are meant to listen and sympathize, sometimes venting can go too far. We forget that our friends aren’t professional therapists, and treating them as such might strain our friendship and have a negative influence on their mental health. While venting can help alleviate stress, expressing traumatic or unpleasant events without addressing the other person’s preparation or ability to take it, according to Jaclyn Bsales LCSW, a trauma-informed therapist based in New Jersey, can be detrimental and exhausting.

This doesn’t mean that you should keep everything bottled up. There’s some excellent expert-approved advice to help you vent in a way that is beneficial to both you and your friend.

Before you vent, give your friends a heads-up

Have you ever considered seeking permission from your bestie to vent? It may feel awkward or unnatural, but don’t worry! There is an easy and polite way to do it. Before meeting up or getting on a call, Racine Henry, Ph.D., LMFT, a therapist and clinical lecturer at Northwestern University advises sending a quick text message saying, “Hey, are you available to chat this evening? I had this crazy thing happen at work, and I really need to talk about it.”

Informing your friend beforehand actually does them a favor. When you unload your daily difficulty on them, they will not feel overwhelmed or caught off guard. According to Dr. Henry, this method also respects their time and boundaries. Furthermore, it allows them to say “no” or propose a better time when they can fully support you, which brings us to our next point.

Schedule an appropriate time for intense conversations

The importance of timing cannot be overstated! While you may be itching to express yourself, it is critical that you do so at the appropriate time. Whether you’re struggling with a problematic family member or considering a breakup with a friend, setting aside time to talk about these delicate issues helps ensure they get the attention they deserve. Giving your friend the opportunity to prepare or opt-out demonstrates respect and attention.

Of course, there are exceptions! If it can’t wait, don’t be afraid to contact your bestie, regardless of your schedule. However, in cases where waiting is an option, keep in mind that your friend may be dealing with their own difficulties. As a result, Bsales suggests requesting an appropriate day and time to discuss your problems.

Remind yourself: This is a conversation, not just a time to rant

Keep in mind that friendships are a two-way street! While you may need to vent, it is critical that the dialogue be mutually beneficial. Begin by thanking your friend for their time, and remember to reciprocate. Don’t forget to ask about their lives or if they have anything they’d like to share. You create a supporting dynamic by allowing them to express their emotions and vent too, if that’s what they need.

This is especially necessary when discussing difficult topics such as loss or abuse. Check-in with your friend on a regular basis to ensure that they are comfortable and safe, and make sure they are comfortable continuing the chat. Allow them to have a say since everyone wants to be seen and heard.

Investigate alternative stress relief strategies

When times are bad, reaching out to friends may seem like the natural solution. Relying completely on them for emotional support, on the other hand, might be burdensome and draining. Before unloading all of your feelings on someone, think about different ways to release tension. Find things that quiet you down and allow you to restore your composure, whether it’s going for a nature walk, a run, journaling, or taking a little nap.

Recognize when it’s time to seek professional help

While friends can be wonderful sources of support, professional assistance is sometimes necessary. Seeking the help of a competent therapist is critical if you’re dealing with long-term and deeply seated difficulties like trauma or excessive anger. A mental health professional can help you navigate your emotions, teach coping methods, and provide ongoing support.

Unsure if counseling is the best option? Consider how much your problem interferes with your regular life. Is it just a temporary situation or is it interfering with your capacity to function and enjoy life? If your mental health is failing or you find yourself relying on friends excessively, it may be time to seek professional help.

Remember that a balanced and healthy friendship needs mutual support while respecting boundaries. You may maintain healthy relationships and protect your friends’ mental health by treating venting with awareness and consideration. So, vent away, but do it with care!

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