@#$%!

Are you feeling stressed out as the end of the semester approaches? Does the thought of the end-of-semester tasks ahead intimidate you? Maybe you’re slowly realizing that term project you’ve been putting off all semester is due in just a few weeks. Or maybe you’re graduating and haven’t found a place to begin your career yet. Perhaps you’re struggling to get into classes you need to take next semester. As students, we have a million reasons to feel stressed as we near the end of the semester.

There are several well-known ways to relieve stress. Exercise, meditation and eating that tub of ice cream are all ways that a lot of people cope with their stress. But a study by Keele University suggests a new method of relieving stress.

Cuss. Swear. Curse.

“Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon. It taps into emotional brain centres and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain,” wrote Dr. Richard Stevens.

The researchers found that swearing can reduce stress and increase pain tolerance. The study involved monitoring a group of volunteers who held their hands under freezing cold water while using obscenities compared to another exercise in which they used a non-offensive phrase. On average, the subjects were able to hold their hands under the icy water longer when swearing. The effects of swearing were even more drastic for those who didn’t typically swear in their daily lives.

The study also delved into the origins of swearing, claiming that the increased pain tolerance caused by the “flight or fight” response swearing invokes explains why curse words of the past were most commonly used by those performing physical tasks. Curse words tap into primal parts of your brain typically associated with survivalist and defensive reflexes.

So the next time you have writer’s block and you’re tempted to yell “screw this!,” do it. It could help you. When someone in your group project forgets to do his or her part, let fly a verbal barrage of your favorite words your mother told you not to say. If you leave an important exam feeling like a chimpanzee could have done as well as you, dropping the “F bomb” might actually be good for your health.

But be careful, the study also found that the more often you swear, the less of an effect your curse words carry. So while the occasional outburst can help you, swearing like it’s going out of style can actually increase your stress level.

The end of the semester is rapidly approaching, and our stress levels are rapidly increasing. When Bob Marley’s mantra of “Don’t worry, be happy” fails to calm you, maybe Mark Wahlberg’s words from the obscenity-laden movie “The Departed” will: “Whoop-de-f-ckin’-do.”

Read the Ka Leo version here.

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