What do you know about suppressing emotions?
For most people, Monday to Friday is spent in the workplace. It may be that you spend more time in the office or with colleagues than you do the people you love. Whether you put everything into your job, or if you simply work to pay for your crazy weekends, there is a certain amount of professionalism you usually must adhere to.
It takes great skill to exude an air of tranquility and calmness during working hours, letting the dramas of the day wash over you. Coffee spilled on your shirt? No problem. Boss given you another assignment due at the same time as another? Handled. Lunch stolen from the fridge? Go to the shop. Passed over for promotion? Maybe next year.
Taking things in your stride can be a great quality to have, especially if you can deal with a high-pressure environment. In fact, it’s what many employers look for in an employee. It may be your way of showing to your boss and colleagues that you’re not a ‘cry-baby’ and you can handle anything thrown at you. Remaining professional and staying neutral at work is helpful to a certain extent, but what about when it becomes problematic?
The problem with suppression
Suppressing your emotions at work, or in fact at all can have serious consequences for your mental health. Emotions aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – they just are. Just like breathing. Emotions help us to connect with each other, establish relationships and work cooperatively. Conversely, emotions help us to feel ourselves, but also show someone else how upset, angry or disappointed we are.
Did you know that suppressing emotions actually leads to more stress? Without getting too technical, doing this long-term messes with your brain chemistry, leading to mental exhaustion and breakdowns. Long-term, you may find yourself avoiding work completely by having sick days and bowing out of workplace social activities.
Holding yourself in all week can have devastating effects on your weekends and free time, too. Many people binge-drink at the weekend to forget about a tough week, but although this may work for you in the short-term, drinking alcohol can cause more anxiety. In reality, you’re creating a vicious cycle.
As well as your mental health, this suppression can even have an impact on your physical self. High levels of anxiety or stress can cause you not to eat, or even overeat, creating problems with your digestive system.
Feel your emotions and don’t fight them
This isn’t to say that you should show your innermost emotions at all times, however you need to get to grips with coming to terms with how you feel at work. When an emotion is suppressed, it doesn’t go away – it sinks in more deeply. Rather than resolving the emotional issue and letting it pass, it is held inside, making things much worse.
Letting go of negative emotions doesn’t mean having a huge blow-out argument with someone, or even crying (although that can definitely help, sometimes!). Making time to work out, meditating, or venting to a friend can assist you in easing some of the pressure before it gets too much. If the issues really do lie within your job, it would definitely be worth setting some time aside to speak to your boss. And if you aren’t able to speak frankly with your boss, is the job worth it? We’ve already spoken about the reality of workplace burnout.
Remember, it’s not weak to feel things; it takes a strong person to recognise and deal with their own emotions.