Not talking? Not harmful.

By Lauren Edwards • Published: September 25th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Many of us were taught as children that if something bad happens, we need to talk it out in order to heal. Yet recent research is proving otherwise, saying it’s actually O-K not to express your feelings all the time.

Published in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, a University of Buffalo study of more than fifteen-hundred people examined the mental and physical effects of collective traumatic events they were exposed to. The findings? People who don’t talk about their emotions after such events might be better off than those who do.

Researchers evaluated participants’ responses to the attacks of September 11, 2001, beginning directly after the attacks occurred and continuing for the next two years. Surprisingly, people who expressed their feelings more were worse off… meaning they were more likely to experience negative mental and physical health symptoms over time than people who were inclined to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves.

And while this should come as good news for many people of the quieter persuasion, it is also important to note that it’s fine to express your emotions if you want to. Either way, no one should be pressured to act one way or another.

The bottom line? Everyone is different. If you experience some sort of collective trauma, when it comes to coping, do what you’re most comfortable with. There is more than one healthy way to deal with life’s negative events.