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Why is Emotional Expression Important?

Our brains process and assign an emotion to every experience we have. From breakfast in the morning to the TV show we watch at night. It's one of the brain's main functions. It's why certain smells can make our hearts flutter, or why an old song can make us sad. But in order for the process to work and to feel healthy emotions, we need to express feelings in the right ways. We need to recognize which one we're feeling, express it and move on. When feeling emotions, we often respond in two ways:

  • Focus on the reason for the emotion – "I'm so angry because he said that."
  • Talk ourselves out of it and stuff it – "I'm not going to think about this and let it ruin my day."

Neither of these are productive ways of expressing emotion. We need to feel the feelings and let them go to deal with them in a healthy way.

Expressing an emotion doesn't have to be something outward like slamming a door, yelling into a pillow or even telling someone about it. It can happen entirely in our minds, too. Instead of getting enraged at someone, we have to forget who we're angry at, forget the story behind it and allow ourselves to truly feel the emotion inside. We can say to ourselves, "I'm really mad, and that's OK."

Just by doing that, we loosen the emotion's grip over our well-being. Expressing our emotions brings about a lot more benefits, too.

  • Helps see problems in a new light
  • Makes decision making and problem solving easier
  • Gets rid of the power of the feeling
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Eases depression

When we fail to express our emotions, our brain can often go into the fight-or-flight state. This is a physical reaction to stress that sets off a chain of events throughout our bodies. It increases our heart rate, slows digestive functions and makes us feel anxious or depressed.

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