Society seems to condition us always need to appear calm and in full control of how we feel no matter the circumstances. Suppressing emotions may seem like an excellent way to prove that you are healthy and doing well, but hiding how you feel can have a detrimental effect on your health such as exhaustion, blood pressure issues and insomnia.
Below are signs that you may be suppressing your emotions as a coping strategy:
Relying on substances like drugs or alcohol to numb the pain and escape from your thoughts.
Consciously avoiding talking about how you feel.
Avoiding situations that trigger reminders of your emotions or force you to confront them.
Using distraction techniques to prevent yourself from having to react emotionally.
One of the significant ways that shutting down negative feelings affects you is through your dreams.
The mind tries to process emotions, but it needs your help to do so. When you refuse to acknowledge this negative emotion, the mind is forced to handle them alone. When you sleep, memories start to be processed.
When you avoid your negative emotions while you’re awake, the brain works on combating the negative feelings while you are asleep. Emotions rise to the surface in an unconscious dream state.
When we avoid and try to suppress our emotions, they show up in our dreams. We can find that sadness, fear, anger and anxiety all become vivid in our dreams. When we suppress our negative emotions, this can also result in sleep problems, poor sleep quality, difficulty falling asleep and tiredness through the day. This can affect general mental health leading to higher levels of low mood, anxiety and a general feeling of stress.
So What Can I Do?
Here are a few ways to healthily process negative emotions rather than suppressing them.
Freeform writing can help you shift negative emotions that you may be experiencing. Allowing yourself to write down your negative feelings, making a note of solutions before going to sleep can be very cathartic and as a result, improve your sleep quality significantly.
Talk about your dreams.
It is incredibly helpful to analyse your dreams with their help. However, unpacking what happens in the dreams with your therapist can help you identify the particular emotions you are suppressing and how to manage them healthily.
Be mindful of your thoughts. Know them and without judgement, observe them as outside of yourself. This will help the process of you moving on from them and letting go rather than suppressing them. Meditation can help you feel, too.
I support couples manage their emotions in the best way possible helping them to unleash their full potential to live and love well. If you would like to explore this further and finding that your negative emotions are affecting your relationship, please do not hesitate to contact me. I offer a free complimentary 20-minute telephone call where we can discuss this further.