Unsplash | Court Cook

Women Who Speak Up More Have Better Heart Health According To Study

Throughout history, women have been socialized to make themselves small; to take up less space physically, and less space in conversation. Though North American society has mostly evolved out of the "don't speak unless spoken to" mentality, women are now tasked with attempting to unlearn hundreds of years of silencing ourselves, which, as it turns out, has had detrimental physical consequences.

The phenomenon is referred to as "self-silencing."

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A study conducted by psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh’s psychiatry department, which will be presented to the North American Menopause Society, has defined self-silencing as including such behaviors:

"Consistently prioritizing a partner’s needs at the expense of one’s own, or declining to express negative emotions in order to appease a partner."

Self-silencing has been linked to a number of health issues.

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These include, but are not limited to, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, increased sensitivity to rejection, and increased risk of death from heart disease and stroke.

And no, we aren't being dramatic.

Unsplash | Andrea Tummons

The University of Pittsburgh's study concluded that self-silencing behaviors can lead to increased arterial plaque buildup, which increases a woman’s risk of having a stroke or experiencing "other cardiovascular problems", like a heart attack.

The study also linked self-silencing to domestic abuse.

Unsplash | Court Cook

Katie Way of Vice framed the investigation perfectly with a poignant sentence: "For women in relationships, prioritizing yourself and engaging in open, honest communication can literally be life or death."

Most of the time, self-silencing is subversive and not easily noticed. It can be as simple as censoring yourself in front of a partner or neglecting to speak up when you are hurt.

It's going to take a lot of work to unlearn self-silencing habits, but studies like these prove just how worth it that process of unlearning will be.

Speaking up not only helps women on an emotional and psychological level but on a physical level as well.

Next time you have something important to say, shout it from the rooftops—it's good for you.

h/t: The North American Menopause Society