“I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.”These are the famous words of Charlie Chaplin. The act of crying is an integral part of human nature. This was your natural language when you were a baby.
At first thought, you cry because you don’t feel good. So, why ask if the act of crying will make you feel any better?
You cry for various reasons. You cry when you watch a sentimental movie, read a sad story, or listen to a sentimental song. You cry when you sense deep sadness, like breaking up with your partner or losing a loved one. You also shed a tear when you are super happy.
Whatever the reason may be, crying is part of life. So what is particularly the science behind why crying can make you feel good? Read this article to know more.
Crying or sobbing is part of your biological and natural makeup as a human. Your body takes in both good and bad chemicals daily. The body has its way of releasing these toxins through your bodily wastes, sweat, saliva, and tears.
Humans are the only living creatures that can cry due to bottled-up emotions. Animals shed tears to lubricate their eyes and not to express any feelings.
Sometimes it is good to sob alone. It gives you time to feel, understand, and accept the emotion you are feeling.
You want to experience being alone when you are shedding tears of sadness or happiness. This is your personal process. After sobbing hard and after telling your family or friends about your frustration or problem, you’ll actually feel a lot better.
You are a social being, and you experience various emotions day in and day out. Crying is not simply the release of emotions. It is also a sign that tells people you need help. It means you want to feel better. You want to connect to others and seek comfort.
Tears play an important function in our eyes. They are mostly water that protects the eyes from external particles. Tears keep eyes moist and lubricated. They also act as filters for the eyes.
The three types of tears are listed below according to their function:
These are considered the basic tears that contain water, salt, oil, and mucus. They help fight infection. The oil component prevents the tears from evaporating.
These tears remove the toxins that come into your eyes. They keep your eyes clean. Irritant tears come from the glands under your eyebrows when you get dust in your eyes or peel onions.
Emotional tears are the third type and are considered the most beneficial to a person’s health. These tears release stress-inducing hormones as well as toxic substances that are bad for your health. Crying releases both oxytocin and endorphins which are happy hormones that relieve emotional and physical hurt.
Crying is a biological response of the body. It happens when you experience extreme feelings like grief and happiness. Crying has been proven to have many health benefits.
Crying has a purifying and cleansing effect on a person’s health. Medical practitioners of ancient times have testified to this. Currently, psychologists see crying as a tool for relieving stress and pain. Crying also promotes healthy family relationships, better attachment, closeness, and compassion.
- Cleanses the body of harmful chemicals. Emotional tears not only consist of water. They also contain harmful chemicals that the body should release.
- Aids in self-soothing. Studies show that crying triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. This system handles the body’s rest and digestion.
- Lessens the pain. Crying releases oxytocin and endorphins, the happy hormones. As soon as these chemicals are released, the human frame starts to relax. It becomes somewhat insensitive. You feel less stressed and less tense. You then start to feel calm and relaxed.
- Improves mood. Crying relieves not only stress and pain but also boosts your mood. This improves your mental health. Every time you shed tears, you inhale oxygen. This helps your body regulate and decrease your brain’s temperature.
- Builds bonding and support. Crying has interpersonal benefits. When you sob, it signals to the people around you that you need help and support. Being with the right people will increase your sense of connection. You don’t just sob in front of random strangers. You sob when you are in the comfort of the people you are close to. They will provide the comfort and care that you seek.
- Vital for recovering from grief. Grief is an intense emotion that should not be held in. Crying has a survival purpose. It will help you understand and accept the reason behind your grief, such as the death of a loved one.
- Re-establishes emotional stability. Crying is your body’s way of maintaining balance when you experience sadness or joy.
- Improves communication. Newborns should cry upon delivery. This is their way of being able to breathe on their own. Crying is their language to convey they need something from their caregivers.
In adults, crying is a non-verbal language. It is a language that tells others they need help and comfort.
- Can change other people’s behavior. When you cry, it can defuse the anger of the person who got mad at you. Their anger towards you neutralizes to avoid further damages or conflicts.
Crying can cause the person who made you cry to feel guilty. Sometimes, you cry to convince others to give in to you. This is very common for toddlers who cry just to get what they want.
Crying is considered to have both personal and social purposes. Some individuals cry in public, while others prefer to do it alone.
Research shows that women cry more than men. Women, on average, cry five times a month. In contrast, the men cry an average of once a month.
Women are considered more emotional and sensitive than men. Females sob easily over a sad or sentimental movie or song that they can relate to.
Due to cultural norms, men are more inclined to hold back their tears than women. In this regard, females feel more liberated. They have a regulated mood and are comfortable, as they can sob more openly than men.
Biologically, males don’t sob as much as females. This is because they have higher levels of testosterone. The changes in the levels of estrogen in females during PMS can increase their chances of crying. The same happens during postpartum.
According to studies, if you hold back your tears, you are prone to many medical problems. You can have hypertension and a poor immune system. You could develop cardiovascular disease and other stress-related illnesses.
For some, crying is a sign of weakness, and they do not want people to know they need help and comfort. The thing is if you hold back your tears, you will feel emotionally worse. This is because you cannot gesture to the people around you that you need help and comfort.
Other people’s responses to your crying will have a big impact on how you will feel afterward. You will most likely feel consoled if they respond with sympathy. Or you may feel ashamed if they make fun of your crying.
If you cry around negative people who will make fun of you, you will most likely feel worse. You badly want to sob, but you are trying not to for fear of being shamed.
At the onset of the emotion, you will normally feel bad as you cry. But after you sob, your body’s healing capabilities via crying will start to work, making you will feel better.
What happens to your physical frame when you have an intense episode of crying? You experience headaches, a runny nose and saliva, puffy red eyes, and a trembling body.
Before you experience the calming advantages of crying, you first have to be in the arousal state. Crying is the effect of the body’s flight-or-fright response. This puts you in a high arousal state, causing an increased heart rate and sweating.
Too much crying is not good. Excessive crying can irritate the eyes. You will also end up with big, red, puffy eyes if you cry too often.
Crying could also be very dangerous and is an indicator of a serious mental health problem. The following situations below are indications that crying is unsafe:
- Abnormally frequent crying
- Crying for no reason
- Uncontrollable crying
- Crying that affects your everyday life
Also, some individuals are diagnosed with clinical depression. They are unable to sob even if they want to. Whether you are crying excessively or not, it is best to seek professional treatment.
Just like Charlie Chaplin, your life is sometimes a silent movie. There are times when words are not enough to express what you feel. A single drop of tear can convey a thousand words.
If you feel sad or happy and you want to cry, go ahead and let it out. Allow yourself to experience all these feelings. Crying may be therapeutic for you. But, if crying is causing more problems than healing, it is time to seek professional help.
Kentucky Counseling Center and its team of counselors can help you feel better and heal from whatever it is that cannot be relieved so much by crying. Contact them now to book an appointment.