Go Ahead, Swear Away: Science Says It’s Good for Your Health

Feeling stressed? Go ahead and let loose with the #!!@#$!!! Here's why swearing will genuinely help you feel better.

Argument, fight, curse or swearing concept. Disagreement on an online forum or internet. Two speech bubbles argue.. Speech balloon cut from paper of cardboard with wooden stick on a dark background.Tero Vesalainen/ShutterstockThere are some weird habits that prove you’re smarter than everyone else, and swearing is one of them. It also happens to be healthy.

In a new book Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, author Emma Byrne uses the latest research from neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, and other experts to make a strong case for swearing being a downright healthy response to stress and pain. Here’s some of the convincing evidence:

  • Swearing at work can reduce stress and boost company morale and camaraderie, according to a 2007 study out of the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Byrne’s research, according to Men’s Health, further demonstrates a biological and psychological imperative to create a shorthand that others are capable of understanding as a socially acceptable (if slightly subversive) means of communicating high emotions such as frustration.
  • Swearing can increase pain tolerance, according to a 2009 study from the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Byrne points out in her upcoming book that “people with terminal or chronic illness use swearing as a way of dealing with fear and frustration.” And it’s far less debilitating than “curling up in a little ball and crying,” according to Men’s Health.
  • Swearing is a harmless, creative emotional release that can make you feel stronger, according to a 2014 study out of Keele. Byrne says “our human ancestors probably developed swear words as a way to express their anger without resorting to physical violence.”
  • Swearing can be a sign of verbal fluency and intelligence, according to a 2015 study out of Marist College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, both in the U.S. Byrne describes the “timely deployment of curse words as intelligent, powerful, and, [sometimes] socially essential.”
  • Swearing uses both “emotion-oriented and language-oriented parts of your brain,” which no other words or terms do, according to Byrne, who has also stated that it is because of this double brain activation that swearing “can help stroke victims re-learn their capacity for language.”

Using swear words isn’t wrong, in and of itself. Just keep in mind that swearing, like most things, is best in moderation.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.