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Did you know that crying is actually good for you?
Crying is something that we all do, even if we sometimes wish we didn’t. It can make us feel helpless or small to cry because our culture sees crying as a sign of weakness. After all, babies cry, right? However, crying isn’t a sign of weakness or anything else – it’s simply a bodily function. Babies cry to communicate. Adults cry to express emotion or find a release. Like all bodily functions, when we cry it serves a purpose.
When we think of crying, we tend to think of pain or sadness.
We think that because someone is in tears, there must be something wrong. Some of the time that is true- crying is a common response to grief or distress. Other times, though, crying can be a powerful release that has nothing to do with pain or sorrow.
Some people cry when they’re sad. Some people have a hard time crying at all. Some people cry when they’re happy. Crying serves a different purpose for everyone, but it’s certainly not a bad thing. Crying has a negative connotation, but crying can serve different purposes and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
All crying is not created equally, either. There are actually different types of tears that scientists have discovered: reflex tears, basal tears, and emotional tears. Reflex tears are there to help keep your eyes clear of things like smoke and dust. Basal tears help to lubricate your eyes and prevent infection. Emotional tears are the ones we will focus on – these are tears that happen when you’re emotionally heightened or upset.
Crying can help release stress hormones
Researchers have tested the different types of tears and actually discovered that emotional tears contain stress hormones. The theory is that crying helps to flush out stress hormones, leaving you feeling less activated and on edge. Why? When you’re stressed, stress hormones can cause your muscles to tense, preparing you for flight or fight. When you cry, you release those hormones so you feel more balanced.
A good cry can help you self-soothe
Self-soothing is a helpful skill to have. Basically, it just means that you are able to regulate your own emotions, calm yourself down, and reduce your sense of distress. When you’re emotionally activated, it can be hard to come up with ways to calm down on the fly. When you practice ways to soothe yourself, you help to prepare yourself for future distress. Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which can help you relax.
Crying improves your mood + relieve pain
A good cry not only helps release stress hormones, but it can help release feel good hormones like oxytocin and endorphins. No wonder we cry when we get hurt, physically and emotionally! Emotional tears can help reduce pain due to the release of these hormones and shift your mood for the better.
Crying helps you communicate
As mentioned above, babies cry to communicate, and adults sometimes do as well. Some scientists believe that crying is an attachment-based behavior that helps provide community and support, two things we all need. Think about it – when someone is upset, most people want to help them feel better, right? Crying is a way to communicate that you are vulnerable and need support or assistance.
It’s good for your eyes to cry
We have different types of tears for a reason, and one of those reasons is to keep our eyes healthy and functioning. Crying is a big part of that! When our eyes are dried out, it can be uncomfortable and even lead to infections. Tears help to keep our eyes lubricated and functioning properly.
Crying can be a sign you need help
While crying is a perfectly normal function, it can be a sign that you need more help than you’re getting. If you find yourself in tears a lot more or less than normal, something might be going on that a professional can help you out with. Crying can be a symptom of depression, so if you’re feeling other symptoms like hopelessness or sleep issues. Depression can easily rob you of your happiness and energy levels, making you feel demotivated and hopeless. With depression treatment, it’s possible to get back on your feet again. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can feel better.
No matter why you cry, crying is a powerful tool. So go ahead, and cry it out if you need to. If you’re looking for more support as you work through powerful emotions, our therapists can help.