Your Brain on Complaining and its Effect on EPPP Test Prep

If we’re honest, there are plenty of things we’d rather do than buckle down with EPPP test prep. Expressing annoyance or distaste at our obligations, what we begrudgingly acknowledge as complaining, can be a common factor in studying and our day-to-day lives in general. In fact, during the average conversation, we complain about once per minute.

You may find polarizing opinions on whether complaining is beneficial or detrimental, but our bodies physically suggest that complaining does more harm than good.

Robin Phillips’ studies on gratitude find that when we complain, or listen to complaining, stress hormones are released, harming the healthy neural connections in your brain. Complaining peels back neurons from the hippocampus, which can, over time, lead to the shrinking of the hippocampus which, in turn, leads to declined memory and adaptability.

Sometimes complaining can be therapeutic or a means to solving a problem. But the issue is that most day-to-day complaining is not.

Guy Winch, Ph.D. and author of The Squeaky Wheel, wrote Does Complaining Damage Our Mental Health? for Psychology Today. He explains that complaining is often an attempt to relieve frustration but ultimately ends up being a way of reliving the frustration when recounting our sentiments to other people. According to Winch, when you complain to others about your harrowing task of EPPP test prep, you are trapping yourself inside the frustration instead of solving the problem.

“The problem is that today we associate the act of complaining with venting far more than we do with problem solving.”

Venting, though, is not thought by Winch to be all bad. It can accomplish the goal of relief over a sour sentiment, like opening the tea kettle before it starts to scream. However, Winch challenges his readers to think about how much they’ve complained recently. Having multiple complaints over things we cannot change can lead to feeling victimized and helpless:

“This accumulation of frustration and helplessness can add up over time and impact our mood, our self-esteem, and even our general mental health.”

Remember that we complain once per minute on average, making complaining a tough habit to break. However, bottling up our complaints does no good and expressing them too often isn’t productive either. How can we healthfully express our sentiments and achieve productivity, especially in EPPP test prep? Winch says to aim for results.

“Just as ineffective complaining can damage our mental health, complaining effectively and getting results can be incredibly empowering and it can affect our mood and self-esteem for the better.”

For example, if something is bothering you within a relationship or you were overcharged at a restaurant, complaining can be a useful way, when done respectfully, to solve a problem. The trick is, though, to address the issue with the persons involved rather than complain about the issue to someone uninvolved.

When it comes to EPPP prep, how can your complaining be effective? Start by noticing the frequency and content of your complaints. How often do you complain and what about? Doing so will be your first step towards problem solving and, ultimately, a healthy study session.


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