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STOP Silent Treatment Stress affecting your Physical Health and Well-being

Updated on November 24, 2015

If you are a victim of the Silent Treatment emotional abuse in your marriage/relationship you may often find yourself

  • Dreading returning home when you have been out, or dreading your partner returning home,
  • Anxious about how long a bout of silent treatment will last, e.g. will it end before we are due to go away for the weekend, or a birthday, hospital appointment , funeral or other event.
  • Uncomfortable about decisions made during a silent treatment bout because the issues haven’t been adequately evaluated due to the lack of a relaxed co-operative atmosphere.
  • Constantly walking on egg shells lest you say or do something to spark the next period of silence

in which case you need to be conscious that your body is under stress and you need to take appropriate steps to counter this stress in order to promote good physical as well as mental health.

As outlined in Part 5 of these silent treatment articles, emotional stress invokes alteration to bodily processes in readiness for a fight or flight response. Prolonged periods of emotional stress, for example caused by silent treatment emotional abuse, means bodily processes are affected for long periods of time. This can lead to actual physical pain and ailments - ranging from tension headaches through to heart problems. Indeed a large proportion of doctor visits are said to be attributable to stress-related issues.

The strategies outlined in detail in Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of these silent treatment articles can help get you through a silent treatment episode without feeling so overly worn down, depressed or downhearted as you might have in the past. In turn, the same strategies can also help you avoid undesirable physical health consequences.

Stress Management to negate negative physical health effects of silent treatment and stress generally

Don't let the silent treatment make you sick.

It’s important to recognise that your health is at risk as a result of silence abuse and indeed stress generally. If you are experiencing insomnia, depression, feel numb and the like it's time to start treating yourself with the utmost kindness and care. Alongside eating healthily, exercising and using the specific strategies in Part 1 2, 3 and 4 of these silent treatment articles to help you cope with silent treatment by presenting to be, and actually being, upbeat, stronger and happier, you might also want to try some of the stress relievers mentioned below.

Journaling – Privately writing problems down on paper, on a computer, wherever, can be very therapeutic. Some find it helps them get things in perspective and lightens the load. Some find that new solutions, clarlity and/or coping strategies come to mind in the journaling process.

Laughter –Giggling, chuckling and larking about is stress limiting and deemed to be the best medicine. It is said to help support the immune system, up energy levels and distract one from pain. Alternatively, if you can feel comfortable with it, rather than overwhelmed, crying can be a great release at stressful times.

Music therapy – Many people find music makes them relax and mellow out. It can lift the spirits and take you to a different place where you can put aside your worries at least for a time, which helps to keep problems in proportion. Generally music can induce a feel good factor. Coupled with singing and dancing, music can be immensely beneficial mentally and physically.

Positive thinking, mantras, affirmations - your internal self talk or way of thinking is all important in dealing with stressful situations. Making positive efforts to disengage from negative self talk can make a world of difference in your life.

Hobbies – Do something you enjoy – e.g. drawing, painting, reading, writing, decorating, playing a sport, volunteering, cooking, making jewellery, sculpting, fashion or interior design, photography, playing chess or other games (the list is exhaustive!). Perhaps there is a skill or activity you have always wanted to try but never got around to. Perhaps there is something you have given up and would enjoy resuming. Either way, scheduling regular "me" time and actioning it is great for bringing down stress levels.

Deep breathing, meditation, and visualisation are all wonderful stress relievers.

Talk therapy – Is there a wise, empathetic friend or relative you could converse with or even confide in? Alternatively or additionally you might like to share your feelings anonymously via the world wide web, join an appropriate support group or perhaps seek the services of a qualified counsellor. Even though you can’t expect others to make everything right, you will likely feel some sense of relief and lightening of your load by having shared what you are going through with someone else, rather than keeping it all stifled inside, upping your stress levels.

Do you keep your silent treatment torment a secret?

Many people never divulge that they have troubling silent treatment episodes on a regular basis, let alone reveal how lengthy the episodes are.

Others do reveal that they have had a spat with their spouse and that they are not on good speaking terms. But of those who do let on, few will actually reveal just how debilitated and depressed being given the cold shoulder makes them feel. Perhaps this is because they don’t think people will understand, or they feel people will be dismissive or judgmental, thinking or saying that silent treatment isn’t so bad on the premise that if there is no actual physical injury, then all’s well.

Unless they have personally experienced it, most people do not have any idea just how insidious silent treatment can be. It’s not something that is generally spoken about on any deep level. This form of emotional maltreatment is silent in more ways than one! It seems petty and who wants to be thought of as not being up to dealing with such relationship conflict. So most sufferers say nothing or very little about their torment to their wider family or friends when they get the silent treatment from their boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband. When people simply suck it up and hide their very legitimate hurt it serves to amplify their feelings of isolation and upset and in turn it impacts their physical as well as emotional health.

However, as the case studies in the preceding article show, continuing episodes of not speaking CAN culminate in a person presenting in the ER/hospital, albeit that silent treatment emotional abuse induced stress is most unlikely to be specified on the notes as one of the possible sources of their health concern! In light of this, talk therapy is well worth considering.

Eliminate unhealthy ways of dealing with stress

e.g. smoking, consuming too much caffeine, alcohol, unhealthy food and drink, not eating, taking your stress out on others by lashing out, being impatient or overspending in an effort to cheer yourself up. Replace these and other negative methods of dealing with emotional stress with the methods suggested above and in the other articles on silent treatment.

Look after yourself – you deserve it

The importance of remaining mindful of the negative mental and physical effects which silent treatment emotional abuse can bring about cannot be over emphasised. Take the time to do what you need to do to avoid tension headaches, skin problems, lower libido, grinding teeth, depression and potentially so much more.


  • standing back from emotive issues such as silence abuse from a narcissistic or passive aggressive husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend
  • keeping things in perspective by refusing to be overwhelmed
  • distracting yourself with positive activities which you enjoy

you CAN help stop your partner’s silent treatment from having long term, dire, physical and emotional effects on you.


Silent Treatment - What to actually do if your partner won't answer you!

Cooling Off Periods are healthy for relationships

Accepting that there are going to be times when disagreements occur or when one or other partner is irritable and needs a time out means that there has to be some mechanism for dealing with such occurrences. Since silent treatment is not only a potential relationship destroyer, but has the potential to seriously damage your health, it's wise to aim for a time limited cooling off period in preference to indefinite periods of stress inducing silent treatment.


Please Note:

You should seek out professional help from a suitably qualified therapist or doctor if you are suffering physical and/or mental illhealth or if your partner is violent.

Strengthening long term relationships where Silent Treatment is an issue.


And if it's time to leave ...

Love is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Love is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
A thought provoking book - highly rated at 4.7 out of 5 stars - Dec 2014

Further Reading on Emotional Health and Silent Treatment


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