To Vent or Not to Vent – What Happens When You “Bottle Up” Your Emotions

By Audrey Ulke, Licensed Psychologist

“Bottling up” your emotions means blocking or suppressing your feelings instead of expressing yourself. You may do this for a variety of reasons, such as having a fear of showing signs of weakness, avoiding talking about a situation because you don’t want to feel negative emotions or misguidedly believing that you must remain positive and upbeat all the time. But, avoiding your emotions does not eliminate them; rather, it makes it more difficult for you to manage other challenging situations that may occur in the future.

The mind and the body are intrinsically linked, and mental and emotional health are important aspects of overall health. Research shows that there is a powerful mind-body connection through which emotional, mental, social and behavioral factors can directly impact our health. Negative emotions, such as anger and anxiety, have been linked to disruptions in the normal balance of the stress hormone cortisol and a lowered immune system, and depression has been shown to increase the risk for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

Acknowledging and expressing emotions, especially distressing ones, are important components of mental health and play a vital role in maintaining your physical health.

Next time you feel yourself bottling up your emotions, try some of these tips:  

Family and friends are significant support resources, but they may not always be able to help you manage your emotional state. Be open to seeking professional help from a trained mental health provider for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.

Audrey Ulke, PsyD, is a Licensed Psychologist at Mission Weight Management.