The Negative Effects of Suppressing Emotions

Alice Mancilla , Op-Ed editor

For many, bottling emotions can seem like a better option than expressing them. Avoiding the confrontation of one’s feelings can be used as a defense mechanism to postpone emotional suffering and distress. Another reason people use this is to defend themselves against their own negative thoughts, but it can also prevent them from finding positive aspects in life, according to Positive Psychology. Although it may take effort and time, learning to express emotions is extremely beneficial to mental health and a person’s well being.

Suppressing emotions is an unhealthy and vicious cycle that many might not know that they are doing. Luckily, there are ways of identifying whether a person is avoiding emotional confrontation. According to some symptoms can include mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression. If a person regularly feels numb, nervous, forgetful, stressed when they are not sure why, and experience uneasiness or distress when talking about feelings, this person might be suppressing their emotions. There are also physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, muscle pain, nausea and digestive problems, appetite changes, fatigue, and sleep problems. Although these are not a definite way of determining whether a person is bottling their emotions, one should look for these traits in themselves and others. This way they can begin to express their feelings to improve their mental health.

Bottling emotions has extremely negative effects and begs the question on why people do it. There is not one reason as to why people don’t confront their feelings. Many people believe that their emotions can make them appear weak and vulnerable. This is especially true in men because, “Males may unconsciously follow the norms of masculinity to suppress their unpleasant emotions in daily life … by suppressing emotional expression,” according to Another reason people may hide their emotions is because they feel that they cannot trust others with their thoughts and feelings due to previous experiences or relationships.

 According to, a previous relationship that has ended in the manipulation of emotions or a betrayal of trust can cause an underlying lack of trust in current or future relationships. To help one’s partner overcome this, students can prove that they are a trustworthy person  to their friends, family, etc so that their partner  can feel comfortable talking about their feelings . 

Communicating with others and trusting people with emotions can be difficult. To feel more comfortable with talking to people, journaling or writing emotions can help express them. These conversations can be difficult, but keep in mind that if students know that someone is struggling , it’s recommended that they be available to talk to said person  or advise them to talk to a trusted adult, counselor, or teacher who may be able to provide them with mental health resources.

There are multiple ways that students can express their feelings. Distractions are a way that one suppresses their feelings, not allowing themselves to open up and deal with their emotions. A cell phone, video game, or TV show can be a way to distract one’s self from their own emotions. Students put all their concentration and time into these activities, so that their attention will be away from their feelings. By recognizing these distractions and limiting them from one’s daily life, it can become an important factor in expressing emotions. Forgiveness is another tactic for releasing emotions. When students accept themselves  and/or let go of grudges towards one another, they can release the stress that the resentment had caused. Although this may not be an easy task, it is beneficial to a person’s well being. Another way to confront emotions is to be optimistic and try new things. Having a positive outlook on emotional experiences and connections may be frightening, but there is a chance of emotional reward and benefits. Making new relationships and searching for the positives in life can open your emotions to others and can aid in releasing emotional stress. 

All in all, expressing emotions and talking about feelings may take time and practice, but the effects are beneficial and definitely worthwhile. By being a trustworthy person, students can help those around them who are struggling and become a positive factor in their lives. If students or their loved ones are  struggling with emotional expression, take the advice above listed in this article while remembering the positive effects that they can lead to.