Emotions get a lot of flack in the business world. It is advised to keep feelings out of business–that being emotional in the office or in negotiations can be destructive and dangerous.
As a result, some people avoid expressing emotions altogether. Emotions that are suppressed are emotions that are not acknowledged or acted on–and although emotional suppression doesn’t sound severely damaging, doing so can actually pose a health risk.
Here is what happens when you don’t allow yourself to fully feel your emotions.
1. Mental exhaustion.
Suppressing an emotion can involve suppressing the memory of something that has made you uncomfortable. However, you cannot actually forget a memory on purpose, so in order to avoid thinking about something you do not want to remember, your mind will work overtime.
2. Stomach problems.
According to research from Harvard Medical School, the stress that comes from unacknowledged emotions can lead to slow digestion, gas, bloating, vomiting, and ulcers.
3. Headaches and migraines.
In response to emotional stress, the muscles in your forehead and brow tighten, leading to reduced blood flow to the brain resulting in headaches.
4. Stronger negative emotions.
When you don’t acknowledge your feelings, you are allowing these emotions to become stronger, according to a study from the University of Texas. Emotional outbursts are “your body’s way of releasing that pent-up emotion,” says clinical psychologist Victoria Tarratt.
5. Weight gain.
Sometimes we use eating as a way to make us feel better during times of stress. If you aren’t properly expressing how you feel, you will find yourself in a state of stress that doesn’t go away. Food can be a temporary band aid for a real problem, and when we eat too much, weight gain is very likely.
6. Difficulty experiencing the positive things in life.
When you try to experience less sadness and anger, you are limiting the range of emotions you can experience. This includes positive feelings like joy and happiness. You can’t have the positive without riding out the negative.
7. Increased cancer risk.
In 2013, one study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester reported. That those who bottled up their emotions increased their risk of being diagnosed with cancer by 70 percent. That’s a great reason alone to start feeling and showing your emotions.
8. Shorter lifespan.
The same Harvard School of Public Health study also showed that emotional suppression “increases the chance of premature death from all causes by more than 30 percent.”
No one likes to feel negative feelings like humiliation, sadness, or anger. But ignoring and avoiding how you feel can make things worse. Once you stop putting off dealing with or acknowledging how you truly feel, you will find yourself living a less stressful and healthier life.