Is crying good for you?

Teenager crying at a window

Is crying good for you?

Asking the question ‘is crying good for you?’ might not sound very inspiring, but believe it or not crying is very good for you!

Let’s strip away the tough exterior and let me ask you something. When was the last time you had a good cry? What was it over? Was it someone who caused you to cry, an accident or a situation?

Some people say that crying is for wimps and you shouldn’t cry in public. I suppose it’s safe to say that you need to choose your company if you have a heavy tearful episode where your nose runs and you can’t breathe in between your sobs. But it is scientifically proven that crying is good for you.

 

“There is a certain pleasure in weeping.”

 

The science behind your tears

The mechanism to cry is built into you. It wasn’t an evolutionary accident nor is it a disorder or weakness. That said, people often feel the need to say sorry for crying. Has a friend or family member ever apologised for crying in front of you? Perhaps you have been the one to apologise?

In the 1970s at the University of Minnesota, tear expert Dr William Frey analysed the chemical make up of tears. He examined the tears that form as a result of chopping an onion or getting something irritating stuck in your eye like a piece of dirt. Dr Frey also investigated the emotional tears that arise from a realtime event. Think about the last time you were emotionally upset about something. You might have cried tears of joy at a wedding or tears of sorrow from watching a sad movie. Yes, that’s me, I can relate to that! I’m the first to start sobbing at a heroic animal film or a tragic love story!

The first type of tears are referred to as ‘reflexive tears’ and their purpose is to protect your eyes by flushing out foreign bodies and to keep them moist and lubricated.

The second type of tears are known as ‘emotional tears’. This makes sense because when you cry for this reason you are usually in some kind of heightened emotional state.

Interestingly though, the main function of emotional tears is to help your body to reduce its stress levels by getting rid of excess hormones and other proteins through the tears you cry. This may sound a bit technical so think of it like opening a window to let out a bad smell or hot stuffy air. You do this to balance the atmosphere with fresh air so that you don’t feel sick or to cool yourself down and avoid overheating. Crying uses a similar response, but for a different purpose – to balance your emotions by calming your mood. Crying is like your built-in valve to release excess pressure.

 

 

“Let your tears come. Let them water your soul.”

 

Teenager crying over friendship on phone
Facts about tears – real proof that crying is good for you

If you have a tough shell and this all seems a bit childish to you, read the facts below and think about how they might relate to the situations you’ve been in, or could be in, where a good cry is a positive reaction.

1. Stress reducer

When you feel anxious or worried you produce a chemical known as adrenocorticotrophic hormone or ‘ACTH’ for short. If you produce a large amount of ACTH it will stimulate the release of the stress hormone cortisol, whose job it is to instruct changes in your body that will help to reduce stress levels. Dr Frey found both of these chemicals present in emotional tears, which suggests that a good sob works to remove stress. Think about it, don’t you feel calmer and more resilient after a good cry? Usually the act of crying physically allows you to feel like you’re ready to face the world again. It does with me!

2. Mood improver

Emotional tears contain Leucine Delphine – a type of endorphin. Endorphins are your body’s natural feel-good factors that provide pain relief and improve your mood. You should get as many of these as you can!

3. Anti-bacterial agent

Lysozyme is a natural anti-bacterium present in emotional tears. It can destroy up to 95% of bacteria that finds its way into your eyes within ten minutes. How cool is that? When your eyes start to water they wash out foreign bodies and kill anything remaining that shouldn’t be there.

4. Calming agent

Emotional tears genuinely lower your blood pressure to result in a steadier pulse and calmer behaviour.

5. Positively proactive

Crying gives you a sense of letting it all out. This process helps you to let things go and enables you to move on as opposed to holding things within – holding on or holding back. If you suppress emotions they can build up inside and even though you think you are keeping a tight lid on things, these negative feelings can seep out in physical ailments such as acne, muscle tension and poor sleeping patterns. Holding onto negative emotions can cause dis-ease or disease and many serious illnesses have their root cause in unresolved suppressed emotions.

6. External comforter

Think about this. When you see someone crying, your natural instinct is to want to comfort them in some way – to give them a big hug or to offer a few words of support.

Hugging is also excellent for you and has been proven to reduce the amount of cortisol in your body (that hormone again) that aids stress reduction. Hugging releases oxytocin, another feel-good chemical that lowers blood pressure and creates a feeling of belonging. And here’s an added bonus; if you hug for longer, you also get a boost in serotonin, which is your happy hormone. This will definitely put you in a good mood. Woohoo fist bump time!

 

Crying is a great antidote for stress and sadness

To summarise, crying is sooo good for you and you shouldn’t feel any shame in it. I must stress, however, that crying all the time to gain attention is not a good thing and it will get on the nerves of your friends and family.

 

“Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.”

 

Choose the life you want to lead

In this blog you have learned that the simple act of crying has so many positive benefits. I introduced you to a few scientific terms, but at least you know that the facts support the claims for having a sob from time to time.

When you next feel a little emotional, find somewhere comfortable, hug your knees, gently rock from side to side and let it all out. When you feel better, take a deep breath and get on with it. Simple!

I’m excited to hear your thoughts about crying. Have you tried to defeat the urge to cry in the past or do you feel the benefits of a weep? Please do email me if you have any questions or thoughts that you want to keep private or feel free to share with the world by connecting with me on my social profiles.

I look forward to hearing your progress and remember, don’t hold it in, you were designed to cry for a reason!

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