Toxic gossip: negative chit-chat is hurting your health

Research shows more than 70% of our conversation revolves around talking about someone else

ORLANDO, Fla. – Gossip… it’s an emotional charge that can help spark a dull day. But experts say that the urge to purge the dirt on others could be harmful to your health.

Let’s face it. Most of us gossip. Research shows that more than 70% of our daily conversations revolve around talking about somebody else.

Venting does serve a purpose. Experts say it provides an avenue to talk about things that upset us, and it allows us to connect with another person who might understand our pain.

But gossiping can take a toll on your health. When adrenaline spikes, so does cortisol, which is a stress hormone, and both of these increase when we retell painful stories of being hurt or wronged by someone.

“Your cortisol goes up, which means your fuel consumption goes up. So, what happens - you actually fired up your body. And if you keep it that way, it’s like driving a car on the freeway in second gear. It just is running and racing and racing. So, any time you go to the mode of gossiping or speaking negative about people, you’ve actually now fired up your fight or flight physiology,” David Hanscom MD and chronic pain expert said.

Over time, your body can stay in that fight or flight mode which can make you feel helpless, angry, and anxious.

And that can lead to survival mode where you gossip about others to make you feel better about yourself.

Experts say it’s a vicious cycle that can eventually make you sick.

“Your immune system starts attacking your own tissues. Your metabolism or fuel consumption starts taking fuel from your tendons and ligaments and cartilage, actually your brain,” Hanscom said.

Gossiping can also bring on exhaustion, anxiety, or depression.

Experts also warn that gossiping can cause long-term physical and mental issues like panic attacks, guilt, and in extreme cases, post-traumatic stress disorder.

So how do you break the cycle? Simply stopping negativity in your conversations can have a dramatic impact on how your body reacts.

It’s important to process tough situations, but the key is not to dwell on them. Spending more time focusing on the positive.

In fact, “positive” gossip like sharing news about someone’s accomplishments can temporarily boost our own self-esteem and may help us all feel more emotionally supported by others.

Experts say the key is balance. Set a gossip time limit. Stick to the 10-minute rule, then kindly bow out of the conversation.