The next time someone tells you not to give into negativity, you can show them proof of why letting yourself fall into a bad mood can be a good thing.
There's reason to believe that allowing yourself to wallow will actually help you out in the long run, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley looked at the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health among over 1,300 adults, finding that those who resisted their more negative emotions (or even judged those emotions harshly) ended up feeling more psychologically stressed than those who embraced their bad moods.
In the first study, over 1,000 participants filled out surveys that rated how strongly they agreed with statements such as "I tell myself I shouldn't be feeling the way that I'm feeling." Those who didn't feel bad about their negative emotions showed higher levels of wellbeing than those who didn't accept their bad moods.
In another session, 150 participants were asked to deliver a three-minute video speech on their communication skills and qualifications as part of a mock job application, and were asked to rate their emotions afterwards. The researchers found that the people in the group who avoided negative feelings reported feeling more distress than those who didn't.
In a final study, over 200 people were asked to keep a journal about their most demanding experiences over a two-week period, then were surveyed again six months later. During this study, those who avoided bad moods reported more mood disorder symptoms than their peers.
"It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall wellbeing," study lead author Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, said in a statement. "People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully."
So there you have it — feel what you have to. There's no shame in giving into negativity once in a while. We're only human, after all.
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