Cursing to Relieve Stress

Written by:

published on:

Updated on:


Note: Your support drives Find-A-Therapist. We earn a commission if you purchase services through our ads.

Looking for a therapist?

Believe it or not, swearing like a sailor – really letting the curse words fly – can be a fantastic way to unwind, to relieve a mountain of stress off of your shoulders, and to generally just get everything off of your chest and out into the ether.

I know, what a surprise, right?

And while the overwhelming majority of people have probably dropped a handful of F-bombs when they were facing a little bit of pressure (or had something dropped on their flood), most of them didn’t really understand just how beneficial some curse words can be a when you have had it up to here and just need something – anything – to help you unwind.

You may have heard that it isn’t quite polite society friendly to drop F-bombs or other curse words at any point in time, and that may be true in most circumstances. But when you are at you’re boiling point and cannot find any other way to let off some steam in a hurry, dropping you below that pressure threshold where you feel like you are going to pop, you may want to uncork a couple of saltier words to get back to your equilibrium.

Here are a couple of reasons (and some science) behind why it can be so beneficial to scream and curse.

Explore emotional well-being with BetterHelp – your partner in affordable online therapy. With 30,000+ licensed therapists and plans starting from only $65 per week, BetterHelp makes self-care accessible to all. Complete the questionnaire to match with the right therapist.

Note: We collaborate with top-tier mental health companies and receive advertising fees from purchases through the BetterHelp links.

You’ll feel a lot less pain when you are letting the expletives fly

As an interesting psychological study, Richard Stevens of Keele University in England decided to test whether or not our vocabulary – and especially the profanity that we use on a day-to-day basis – could have an impact on whether or not we focus on or feel certain levels of pain.

Recognizing that human beings almost universally let the expletives go when they deal with sudden pain over there you probably had this experience stubbing your toe in the past), Stevens wanted to know exactly what the impact that these expletives had on the human body and the mind – if any.

Encouraging 67 college students to submerge their hands in nice cold water, a certain subset of those students were encouraged to scream as many profanities as they liked while the others were forced to use much more “vanilla” words.

Comparing how long both groups were able to keep their hands submerged in water, those that screamed up sanity’s – the filthier, the better – were able to keep their hands submerged in the icy temperatures for (on average) 40 seconds longer than the control group.

Disney language may be perfectly fine around small children, but if you are dealing with a little bit of pain – or quite a bit – you may want to swear like a sailor.

Curse words can make you feel superhuman

Stevens (of the research project we mentioned above) also noticed something else during the tests and examinations:

When human beings curse – especially forcefully and as loud as humanly possible – they trigger a chemical response in the human body that is closely linked to aggression, testosterone release, and feelings of competitiveness.

Those that are able to channel their curse words and let fly a string of expletives were able to psychologically pump themselves up more so than those that do not, allowing them to cause a biochemical reaction throughout the body that cascades into all aspects of their life.

This biochemical reaction improves their mental focus, improves their athletic ability, and helps them compete – essentially turning them into superhumans for at least a short duration.

More study is absolutely necessary in this area, but it may help to explain why some of the most dominant athletes and soldiers in human history fell in love with salty language more than most anyone else.

Swearing may be a fantastic coping mechanism

Human beings have an amazing tendency to adapt to almost any situation that they find themselves in, and that all happens because of our brain’s ability to create coping mechanisms that allow us to adjust on-the-fly.

Though there are all kinds of different coping mechanisms that humans will turn to depending upon the specific stressful situations they find themselves in, cultures all over the world have this in common – they love (absolutely LOVE) to fall back on their curse words to help get their minds off of a particular situation while also communicating to others just how dire things can be.

Anthropologists across the globe have found that most every culture has certain curse words that are used as coping mechanisms, and that they have an interesting way to unite members of that particular culture together to accomplish things they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise under certain stresses and pressures.

Language really is the most important and powerful human invention and curse words play a tremendous role in allowing us to unlock all of our potential even when we are facing significant odds.

Those that swear aren’t stupid, foolish, or ignorant

According to information published by a handful of UK medical professionals and psychologists, as well as numerous studies conducted in the United States, there is absolutely zero link between curse words and the intelligence (or lack thereof) of individuals that use them.

Curse words and salty language has always been considered “below” a certain class of individuals in most cultures, and attributed to those that are somehow undesirable. However, you’ll find that all people of a particular culture will fall back on the curse words that they know when they find themselves in sticky situations – and there is zero link between those words and some lack of intelligence.

Don’t be afraid to let the F-bombs fly

Obviously, you’re going to want to make sure that you aren’t throwing F-bombs left, right, and center when it would be socially incorrect to do so, but you may not want to police your language quite as much as you have been especially when you’re feeling stressed out or pressured.

If you feel like you are about to pop, and if you feel like you’ve had it about up to here already with life’s stress and pressure, you’re going to want to scream, you’re going to want to shout, and you’re going to want to make anyone with a near shot feel like the fleet has just returned.

More stress management techniques.

Take the stress test!

Join the Find-a-therapist community and get access to our free stress assessment!

Additional Resources

Prioritizing our mental well-being is paramount in today’s fast-paced world. The digital age has redefined therapy and psychiatric care, making support more accessible than ever. To guide you towards a healthier state of mind, we’ve partnered with pioneering names in mental health.
Note: We collaborate with top-tier mental health companies and we earn a commission if you purchase services through our ads.

Online Therapy

Discover a path to emotional well-being with BetterHelp – your partner in convenient and affordable online therapy. With a vast network of 30,000+ licensed therapists, they’re committed to helping you find the one to support your needs. Take advantage of their Free Online Assessment, and connect with a therapist who truly understands you. Begin your journey today.

Relationship Counceling

Whether you’re facing communication challenges, trust issues, or simply seeking to strengthen your connection, ReGain’s experienced therapists are here to guide you and your partner toward a healthier, happier connection from the comfort of your own space. Get started.

Therapist Directory

Discover the perfect therapist who aligns with your goals and preferences, allowing you to take charge of your mental health. Whether you’re searching for a specialist based on your unique needs, experience level, insurance coverage, budget, or location, our user-friendly platform has you covered. Search here.

About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

You might also be interested in


In some articles, we include products we think are useful for our readers. When you buy through these links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Information on our website is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a mental healthcare professional.

Online Therapy, Your Way

Discover the ease of starting therapy with BetterHelp. Complete the assessment and connect with a licensed professional therapist online.
Note: We earn a commission if you purchase services through our ads.