What is Emotional Suppression?
Emotional suppression is simply the avoidance of emotions. It is a coping strategy that people use with the belief that it is healthy or the right thing to do.
Many people are taught to believe that they are not meant to express emotions such as sadness, anger or frustration and this becomes an ingrained belief and way of living.
Such beliefs then create strong neural connections and pathways in our nervous system. In other words, our brain and nervous system becomes accustomed to suppressing feelings that eventually it becomes the norm.
Signs of Emotional Suppression include:
Stress and the Effects of Emotional Suppression on the Body
Stress is detected by the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal axis (HPA axis). Specifically the hypothalamus detects stress, which in turn fires to the pituitary. The pituitary then sends message to the adrenals for fight or flight, which results in hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to be released.
Persistent emotional suppression is also a form of stress, which affects the HPA axis and thus your physical body.
Stress hormones (as a result of emotional suppression or other forms of stress) will have a negative impact on various bodily systems including the digestive system, immune system, and neurological system.
Canadian medical doctor and author, Gabor Mate, speaks of how psychological factors such as uncertainty, conflict, a lack of control and lack of information are considered the most stressful stimuli and strongly activate the HPA axis.
Clinical professor of medicine at the University of Calgary, Noel B. Hershield writes about the field of psychoneuroimmunology, which shows compelling evidence on the link between the brain and the immune system.
He states that an “individual’s emotional makeup, and the response to continued stress, may indeed be causative in the many diseases that medicine treats but whose origin is not yet known”. Some of the diseases he refers to include scleroderma, the majority of rheumatic disease, inflammatory bowel diseases and multiple sclerosis.
Research also shows that suppressing emotions can result in:
Becoming Aware of Emotions:
Allowing suppressed emotions to surface in a safe and health manner takes time and patience.
Some ways to begin the journey of allowing feelings to surface and be released include:
We hope the article above allows you better understand emotional suppression, bring more awareness to feelings you may avoiding and safe ways to work through them!
Reach out to Avdeep if you are looking for a safe and non-judgemental space to effectively process and release emotions.
Avdeep is an occupational therapist, mindfulness and certified Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner that enables clients to overcome limiting thoughts and beliefs. Through deep listening and various techniques she guides clients to release stuck emotions. She inspires clients to let go of judgement, to live with self-compassion and to reconnect with their spirit. Avdeep knows each person has the ability to take control of their life and is eager to empower clients on this journey.