Repressing or bottling up emotions can be bad for our health and wellbeing. Instead, we should aim to find emotional release for our negative feelings.
Many of us suppress our emotions for a variety of reasons. We may not have felt safe expressing strong emotions in childhood, or we may have learned to suppress emotions from our parents. Some people believe it is inappropriate or unacceptable to express negative feelings. Others think it makes us appear weak. Sometimes we don’t express our emotions because we may fear that others just won’t understand. However, emotional release is vital for our mental health and wellbeing.
Here are seven ways suppressing our emotions can cause us harm.
1. Suppressing emotions can cause stress.
When you repress emotions, they do not go away. In fact, they can have even more serious effects on your body, causing a rise in blood pressure and flipping you into fight or flight mode and making you stressed. Though we think we are successfully repressing emotions, our bodies and nervous systems know differently and over time, this can cause major damage to our bodies and our sense of well-being.
2. Suppressing emotions can cause poor sleep patterns
Suppressing emotions only works while you are conscious. When you sleep, you are less able to squash down the feelings. They may emerge as bad dreams or a feeling of anxiety that prevents you from sleeping well. Poor sleep has a negative impact on the body and mental health.
3. Suppressing emotions can cause mental exhaustion
Attempting to suppress emotions is a lot of work. Being constantly on the alert for the emergence of negative feelings puts a strain on our systems that become exhausting. We use up huge amounts of energy and psychological reserves just keeping the emotions at bay.
4. Suppressing emotions can cause memory problems
When you suppress a negative emotion, you have difficulty remembering not just the event but also the time period and events surrounding it. This can cause gaps in our memories that can be worrying.
5. Suppressing emotions can harm relationships
Those who suppress emotions have more problems with relationships than those who express emotions easily. When we fail to have good relationships, this has a negative effect on our well-being and mental health.
6. Suppressing emotions can cause damage to your temporal lobe
The temporal lobe is the part of your brain that is associated with mood stability. If you are suppressing emotions, you are interfering with its work. Over time this can cause a reduction in the temporal lobe function and difficulty keeping moods stable.
7. Suppressing your emotions can cause serious mental illness.
Suppressing emotions prevents the brain from working properly and efficiently. Its ability to see situations objectively becomes impaired which can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and sometimes substance abuse.
How to release emotions healthily
Knowing that suppressing emotions is bad for us, we have to find healthy ways to achieve emotional release. Being aggressive or sulky or blaming others won’t help. Neither will taking negative action based on our feelings. But there are healthy ways of dealing with our emotions.
We can release negative emotions more healthily in several ways. Firstly, we need to try to be more aware of our emotions. This may involve spending some time alone just thinking about how are we feeling. Often we try to distract ourselves from negative emotions with TV, social media or even overeating or alcohol.
To get emotional release, we can try a variety of tactics.
Talking to a friend or counselor about our feelings can help release them naturally. We can also write down how we are feeling to express our feelings or use some other creative method of expression.
Other tactics that can help include meditation and physical exercise. If you are suffering from angry feelings, then shouting, screaming or hitting a pillow might be effective for you.
Try a few different ways of finding emotional release to see what works for you.