Is criticizing others good or bad for your health?

Criticism harms physical, psychological, and spiritual health; it increases cortisol, damages the maturation process

We have become experts in health issues

Never before has so much attention been paid to physical health as in our times. 

When have we seen young and not-so-young people become more and more committed to having a good physique? It's amazing to see 15-year-old boys and girls go on diets and exercise to get a perfect body. Everybody is able to say which foods are good or bad for your health. Children and adults self-program diets and exercises with a expertise worthy of mention, thanks to professionals who share their knowledge on YouTube and other platforms. Today, terms such as aerobic or anaerobic activity, saturated and unsaturated fats are handled with total naturalness, when until a few years ago only sports trainers, nutritionists and athletes knew anything about their meaning.

However, does this concern for physical health also manifest itself on a mental level? Would you know what is good or bad for your mental health?

There is a famous sports brand called ASICS, which is the acronym for anima sana in corpore sano, which can be translated as "a healthy mind in a healthy body". It is true that body health has an impact on mental health, but it is also true that psychological balance has a great influence on body well-being. Health professionals know that when a person is subjected to a lot of stress, it can manifest itself through illness. Therefore, it is very important to know what factors can affect our mental health.

It is said that in some countries criticism has become a national sport. In practically all work environments it is acceptable to speak badly of the boss or to criticize colleagues when they are not present. This practice is so common that if you only speak well of people, it seems that you are hiding something. Unfortunately, talking badly about others has become normal, even sometimes among "friends". 

Slandering people seems to be an escape route from personal frustrations and suffering. One tries to release inner tension by disapproving of others. Everyone knows that sharing one's sorrows with others is a good thing for mental health. However, what happens in our organism when we criticize? A famous Spanish psychiatrist, Marian Rojas (see a lecture in Spanish), explains that "talking badly about others introduces a toxic emotional state". As she explains in her book "What to Do to Have Good Things Happen to You", when we criticize colleagues the body releases a substance called cortisol, the same substance that is secreted when we are in stress situations or when we have had little sleep. This substance is especially dangerous for physical health, as we will explain below.

Cortisol is a steroid produced by the adrenal gland whose functions are to increase blood glucose, suppress the immune system and assist in the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Don't worry if you haven't understood anything: let me try to put it in terms a little more understandable.

Is criticizing others good or bad for your health?

What negative effects does cortisol have on the body? Diabetes, hypertension, infertility, obesity and osteoporosis are some of its harmful effects. Kind of bad, right? Cortisol promotes increased blood glucose, and that's why diabetes occurs. In addition, this substance is antidiuretic (reduces urination), so fluids accumulate in the body generating hypertension. On the other hand, it has been shown that high levels of cortisol reduce fertility and increase the probability of an unprovoked abortion. In addition, there is a direct relationship between cortisol and obesity. Finally, cortisol decreases bone formation, causing long-term osteoporosis, with the consequent risk of greater bone fracture. As you can see, the effects of cortisol are quite harmful to our body.

In short, what in some places is practically considered a national pastime is actually a very unhealthy habit that has harmful effects at the organic level. For these reasons, it is good to keep in mind that not speaking badly of anyone is something beneficial for both physical and mental health.

Juan Prieto Álvarez

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  1. What Dr. Prieto writes is often observed: people who lose their health by not controlling their tongue. A change in attitude prevents mental illness.