Why bottling up your emotions is bad for your health

New research shows the negative consequences of  bottling up our emotions. If your partner has done something to really upset you and you bottle it up-you are much more likely to be aggressive.
  If you’ve had a bad day at work and you suppress your emotions you can come home and take it out on your partner.
 Even Freud talked about this…


Another study shows that suppressing emotions can take years off your life. This study asked participants questions such as “I try to be pleasant so that others won’t get upset” and “When I’m angry I let people know.”


When the survey was repeated ten years later it was found that premature death rates are the highest amongst those that bottle up their emotions. 
Researchers guess this causes early deaths– perhaps because people use drugs, smoking, drinking or over eating as coping mechanisms for their suppressed emotions.  Perhaps the stress of bottling up emotions disrupts hormonal balances leading to illness and damage to the immune system.

Suppressing our emotions can shut down and close our partners out. We might not mean to do it or even want to do it but it could be a learned behaviour from our parents or our own attempts to avoid conflict. Sometimes we can’t cope or deal with an emotionally painful scenario because of we are paralysed by fear.

We can bury emotions down deep inside where they “rot.” This “fermentation” can seriously harm relationships and cause resentment.

“Buying peace” at any cost creates deep unhappiness. 
Swallowing down our hurt, bubbles up later in negative ways and manifests itself;

  • in low self esteem
  • unconsciously hurting and punishing our partner
  • internalising our pain so it turns into self destructive behaviour
  • venting about your partner
  • losing patience for your partner at little things etc.

We can try to avoid feeling our emotions through;

  • denial
  • compulsive behaviour such as over eating/working or sexual activity or drug abuse
  • addiction to pornography/intimacy avoidance
  • keeping excessively busy as a defence mechanism etc.

We use  many unhealthy techniques to help us repress our feelings. Learning to identify these emotions and releasing them can help improve and enhance our relationships. 


We can reverse emotional suppression.

I’ve helped many couples adopt new, healthy emotional communication styles. Telling our partner how we feel emotionally can open the gates of communication and help us feel more grounded. Learning how not to run away from our emotions and numb out the pain can force us to step out of the victim role and into a place of self responsibility.

I teach clients to identify how we feel. Ask yourself; What do I feel right now? Write the answer in a journal. Notice what tension you are feeling in your body when you feel certain emotions. Rather than rushing for the junk food/wine/cigarette or your own individual crux, notice the feeling in your body and the source of the emotion and work on that instead.

Try telling your partner, “I feel hurt because….” rather than bottling it all up can help start opening up the cork on your emotional bottle.

Come see me for confidential, open minded therapy to learn more techniques to improve your health and your relationships.


Cat O Dowd


Relationship Counsellor- Sex Therapist- Art Therapist

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