Studies show that the average person keeps between 5 to 13 secrets. Secrets can have a negative effect on your health and wellbeing. It’s not the secrets themselves that are harmful to your health, it’s the burden of having to keep them. Secrets can feel like a weight on your shoulders – literally.
If you’ve ever had a secret, you know that you sometimes feel trapped by it. You might be scared to tell someone, or worried that your secret will get out on its own. Worrying about secrets wears you down and leads to conditions like depression, anxiety, and stress. Keeping secrets increases the body’s main stress hormone, called cortisol. Stress can take a major toll on your whole body. Here are a few ways that the stress from secrets can affect you:
- Constant stress has been shown to lower your immune system response – meaning you’re more likely to get sick.
- Stress and anxiety can cause physical reactions like upset stomach, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, and even panic attacks.
- You feel negative emotions like hostility, fear, shame, and sadness, more often.
- It makes chronic conditions worse.
- Stress affects your ability to focus and learn.
- It reduces your quality of sleep, which leads to mood swings and irritability.
- Secrets changes how you interact with other people
Safe Ways to Share a Secret
Many people keep secrets because they fear being judged or don’t have anyone to trust or confide in. If a secret is weighing on your mind, try one of these methods.
Stay anonymous. Share your secret in an online forum. Many websites let you post secrets and don’t require any personal information.
Write it down. Write your secret on a piece of paper and shred it. You will feel a weight lift off your shoulders. Journaling or writing in a diary is also a good way to write down your thoughts and relieve some of the burdens of keeping secrets.
Talk to a therapist. Sometimes you may not feel comfortable sharing secrets with friends or loved ones. Talking to therapist or psychiatrist is a safe way to speak openly about your feelings no judgment.
Your emotional wellbeing is an important part of your overall health. Find more information about mental health in our resource center.