Emotional Ventilation: How Does "Airing Out Your Emotions" Improve Your Well-being?

Emotional ventilation is all about airing out your emotions to better understand them and improve your overall well-being. Learn all about it here.
Emotional Ventilation: How Does "Airing Out Your Emotions" Improve Your Well-being?
Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 15 May, 2023

The emotional ventilation technique aims to promote a healthy expression and management of emotions. Often, phrases such as “it’s not that bad,” “you shouldn’t feel bad,” or “you’re exaggerating” gradually get into our heads and teach us to invalidate the way we feel.

In turn, they seek to find the “right” way to express our emotions. However, they’re phrases that function as obstacles and lead us to think more in terms of the expectations of others and disconnect us from what’s really happening and going through us. So, what’s a better solution? Let’s take a look.

The power of emotions

Emotions are the basis for good physical and mental health because they provide us with information about our internal states and help us adapt to a situation. In turn, they also have a social component, through which we can communicate and connect with other people.

Our emotions also motivate us to action, as they guide our decisions. In this sense, to disregard or avoid them would be to miss out on all their contributions.

Mujer expresa emociones
Emotions play a fundamental role in our physical and mental well-being. Therefore, we must learn to recognize and manage them.

We think you may also enjoy reading this article: 13 Easy Strategies to Free Your Mind and Manage Your Emotions

What to take into account when trying emotional ventilation

Emotional ventilation aims to open up to our emotions, recognize them, express them, “shed light on them,” and bring them out into the open air. This doesn’t necessarily imply transmitting them to others in the first instance, but refers to sharing them with ourselves and truly accepting them.

To be able to perform this technique, it’s a good idea to take into account some keys that will be presented below.

Suspend your prejudice and any judgments you may have about your emotions

Perhaps it seems difficult not to associate joy with positive emotion and anger with a negative emotion. But what if we just thought of both of them as a learning process and different sorts of messages?

Many emotions are part of an often unread and overlooked chapter in our development and learning. For a long time, more importance was given to the cognitive, but the emotional and emotional intelligence was left aside. Then, along with other beliefs, we collectively taught ourselves to disregard our emotions and instead place priority on our thoughts.

However, this is a tremendously dangerous practice. Emotions provide valuable information on how we feel; they are not good or bad in themselves. We only see them as good or bad depending on their expression, their management, and what they trigger in us.

Let’s see an example: anger, when well-channeled, allows us to set boundaries in an unfair situation, such as preventing someone from mistreating us. Meanwhile, a poorly channeled emotion of anger overwhelms us and overcomes us, as would be the case of insulting or harming someone who mistreats us.

Another important point to keep in mind when it comes to pausing what we think about emotions has to do with something we just mentioned: there are also emotions that are considered more appropriate depending on whether we’re talking about a man or a woman. For example, a classic phrase is “real men don’t cry”, which prevents them from truly expressing themselves and being able to ask for help.

Overall, all emotions are universal, and it’s cultural factors that have established that men don’t cry and that women are more sensitive. However, sticking to this idea and repressing our emotions implies paying a very high cost in terms of our well-being.

Emotions must be understood and worked on, not judged, avoided, or repressed.

Now break down the emotion

Alright, now imagine you’ve got the “fresh” emotion in your hands: there you are, feeling very angry because you didn’t get the grade you expected in an exam. But how and why did you come to feel this way?

It’s important to be able to recognize what factors may be present in that situation in order to understand why that emotion is triggered. Surely, in the same situation, two people will react differently, just because they interpret and live that fact in a different way.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Your Tongue Can Reveal The State of Your Emotions and Health

Exercises and techniques to practice emotional ventilation

There are many ways to practice emotional ventilation. Here are some examples.

Start by giving the emotional a name

Anger, rage, jealousy, envy, joy, fear… name the emotion as it is, without trying to disguise it or “embellish” it. We feel them and experience them this way.

Ventilate them verbally or in writing

This will depend on the style and preferential mode of the person. For example, there are those who prefer to write or draw their emotions, while others are better at expressing them in words.

In terms of writing, we can “deposit” emotions in a post-it note as a way to get them out and to get distance from them and the way they take over us. For instance, you may write: “I feel bad because my friend did X; today I want to cry because Y; I had a bad day because Z, I was happy when X happened…”

Evaluate the situation that caused an emotion

Another key exercise can be to make an evaluation of the situation that caused the emotion in order to better understand and integrate your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

You can do this at the end of the day or at the end of any activity. How did I feel doing this? What could I improve? Ask questions that allow you to connect with your emotions and do some healthy emotional venting.

¿Qué tener en cuenta para aplicar la ventilación emocional?
Emotional venting proposes taking a pause to name, recognize, and understand our emotions.

Do it for yourself

As mentioned above, emotional venting is a way of thinking and feeling like ourselves. Many times, we’re able to empathize with the emotions of others, but we don’t apply the same rule to ourselves.

We judge ourselves as weak, foolish, or overly sensitive to our feelings in certain circumstances. However, being able to connect with emotions is a matter of self-knowledge, limits, acceptance, and self-esteem. It’s about giving ourselves the place we deserve in order to learn, grow, and become better people.

That “emotional pot” that we try to cover always ends up reaching a boiling point sooner or later, and from there, psychosomatic diseases, stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders can appear. Therefore, “making friends” with our emotions is more than a choice; it’s a matter of health.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Bisquerra Alzina, R. (2003). Educación emocional y competencias básicas para la vida. Revista de Investigación Educativa, 21(1), 7–43. Recuperado a partir de https://revistas.um.es/rie/article/view/99071
  • Fernandez, I., Zubieta, E., & Páez, D. (2000). Expresión e inhibición emocional en diferentes culturas. Cultura y alexitimia:¿ Cómo expresamos aquello que sentimos, 73-98.
  • Fernandez, A. M., Dufey, M., & Mourgues, C. (2007). Expresión y reconocimiento de emociones: un punto de encuentro entre evolución, psicofisiología y neurociencias. Revista chilena de Neuropsicología, 2(1), 8-20.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.