Crying is Healthy
“I’m a crier by nature. I’ve discovered in the last year and a half. And I’m okay with that now,” says Victoria Hodder, confidence coach. Becoming okay with being a crier by nature – and crying regularly - is a form of self love. Crying has many physical and emotional benefits.
Did you know there are three different types of tears? According to an article in Psychology Today, different types of tears have different functions. These types include the following:
· Reflex tears;
· Continuous tears; and
· Emotional tears.
Crying Releases Stress
Reflex tears clear your eyes of irritants, like smoke, or dust. Continuous tears constantly lubricate the eye. But emotional tears are special – and actually provide us with health benefits. For example, while reflex tears are comprised of 98 percent water, emotional tears contain stress hormones. Understanding this is critical, as crying allows us to relieve the body of these stress hormones by releasing them through our tears.
Crying Really Does Make You Feel Better
Studies have shown that crying stimulates endorphins – feel good hormones. In other words, crying makes us feel better about things, even when the situation remains the same. Emotional tears also contain more manganese, which is a mood regulator, than other types of tears. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system and this leads to the restoration of balance to the body.
Intentional Crying as a Form of Consistent Mental Health Practice
In Japan, crying is such a recognized form of mental health care there are “crying clubs,” where members actively get together to have a good, emotional cry. They use movies with sad themes to encourage the tears. Crying clubs, while perhaps a novel concept within the United States, can provide a safe space for participants who are otherwise uncomfortable crying in front of others. Some participants have found that group crying validates the practice of crying, and makes crying easier.
A Study About How Crying Makes Us Feel. . . Because – Science!
In a recent study, researchers exposed 60 subjects to two emotional movies. 28 participants cried during the movies and 32 did not. Both sets of participants were asked to rate their moods before the movies, immediately after the movies, 20 minutes after the movies, and 90 minutes after the movies.
Of those that didn’t cry, their moods remained unchanged and unaffected immediately after viewing the films. The criers, however, reported a lower mood than before the movies. But after 20 minutes, the criers’ moods had returned to their level as reported prior to watching the movies. The most interesting part of the study, however, has to do with the mood of the criers 90 minutes after the movies. Unlike the non-criers, who’s moods remained constant, cries reported being in an even better mood than they were before watching the movies.
Scheduling a Good Cry – Shifting Our Perspective
In light of this data, perhaps one should consider scheduling a good cry as a proactive part of self care and self love. Obviously, crying in the workplace may not be the best idea. But why not schedule one night a month to watch tear jerker movies to invoke a good cry. This can be an easy, low cost method of contributing to our own well being.
Taking Advantage of Opportunities as they Present Themselves
How often have we attempted to hold back our tears when reading a sad story? Maybe a better approach would be to just let it all go and cry it out. According to the above referenced study, the enhanced mood was not based on the number of times each crier cried during the movies, just that they had cried at all. Consider loving yourself enough to release some of those built up stress hormones, invite in some feel good endorphins, and expect a better mood in a mere 90 minutes.