benefits of crying

Pushpa, let’s not hate tears: 5 reasons why crying is good for you

It may sound impossible but crying actually has health benefits. It keeps stress at bay and adds to our wellbeing, especially after a hard day of difficult emotions.

Pushpa, I hate tears…this famous line said by the evergreen actor Rajesh Khanna in the Bollywood classic Amar Prem was a hit then and continues to be meme worthy till date. But while most people make fun of those who cry easily, it is quite wrong to label crying as a weakness. Like most taboos, the act of crying is mired in silly myths and looked down upon. On the contrary, anger which is indeed a sign of weakness and loss of control, is considered macho by most people in our society!

So what is it about crying that makes people think of it as a lesser reaction – is it the appearance of tears, the losing of control or the breakdown of a tough front? What many people do not know is that crying is a natural response – to emotions like grief, anger, sadness and even joy. More scientifically known as emotional tears, these comprise of a high level of stress hormones. And the best part is that crying has health benefits too!

Known to lower blood pressure and release toxins from the body among other benefits, a good session of crying literally makes one feel lighter, as if the burden has come off one’s heart and mind.

Soulveda shares here some of the benefits of crying.

The three kinds of tears

It is important to know that human beings have three types of tears. Reflex tears, continuous tears and emotional tears. Reflex tears and continuous tears play the important role of removing toxins, debris or irritants from the eyes. They are also responsible for proper lubrication of the eyes and protection from various infections. The third kind, known as emotional tears are the ones we commonly term as crying.

Known to flush stress hormones and toxins from our body, emotional tears have the most health benefits according to several published studies. Stephen Sideroff, a clinical psychologist at UCLA and director of Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics, confirms that crying and letting one’s defenses down activates the body in a healthy way. He further explains that when stress tightens the muscles and increases the tension in our bodies, crying helps to release some of it.

Relieves pain

The importance of crying is backed by science. Crying is known to reduce immediate pain of the body. Research tells us that shedding emotional tears releases endorphins and oxytocin in the body. Both hormones are known as happy hormones that heal one’s body by reducing pain and enhancing wellbeing.

Crying is also a way to self-soothe. In a world that promotes hectic lifestyles and people find themselves increasingly lonely, crying helps to calm ourselves down. It helps regulate one’s own emotions and reduce the distress brought by a situation or person. If being dependent on others for your wellbeing is not your thing, then crying at times will hold you in good stead.

Improves mood

A study explains how crying activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which consequently helps people relax. So crying automatically helps improve a gloomy mood. No matter how bad the situation is, crying eases things for you.

According to science, emotional tears contain more mood-regulating manganese than the other types of tears. These tears also release the feel good hormones, namely oxytocin and endorphins. This means that crying is bound to lift your spirit up, no matter what rock bottom you may have hit. With an improved mood comes the hope that things will look up. So who says crying is bad!

Helps get support

If you have ever cried and found your parents or friends rallying around you, trying to make it better for you, then your tears probably did the work they set out to do! Crying increases attachment behaviour and is a sign for the people around to notice that something is upsetting you. It is a people-centric response that gets attention and urges your near and dear ones to help you.

Even though you may not have deliberately cried to ask for help or support, emotional tears are a call to action for people who care about you to hold you in that moment of crisis.

As an added benefit, tender and intimate moments like someone wiping your tears also strengthen social bonds. The importance of crying in one’s emotional wellbeing can simply not be denied.

Helps express negative emotions

We often hear people say that they just can’t bring themselves to cry. Whether it is the age old taboo of ‘boys shouldn’t cry’ that stops them or otherwise, not crying in response to deep sadness or anger is not a healthy thing. Repressive coping or the phenomena of people keeping their difficult feelings repressed within themselves is quite harmful according to experts. In fact, repressive coping is known to adversely affect the immunity system, blood pressure and mental wellbeing of people.

Imagine hurting from the loss of a dear one. Or the loss of a job that you held for years due to recession. Or dealing with a mammoth pandemic like Covid-19. It is not normal to have a strong front when something of such magnitude happens to you. Crying is not only normal but also healthy in coping with such losses. Of course, one doesn’t have to do it in public. Simply occupying a personal space and letting those tears out can help deal with such losses greatly.

Modern society has come a long way in the subject of crying. While thinkers of ancient, intellectual societies vouched for it, somewhere along the line, it became a gendered act. People began to treat crying as a weakness, as something strong men could not be seen doing. Such beliefs did a lot of harm as men began to repress their emotions and withdraw from their natural impulses of being vulnerable. Women too, were made to feel inferior for being able to cry or lower their defenses more easily than men. Since then, decades of unlearning have made crying gets its due as an important response to deeply felt emotions. Today, Japan has crying clubs where people gather to watch tear jerkers and cry their hearts out in a bid to release stress and feel better. In a nutshell, crying is good for people once in a while. As purifying and stress relieving as it feels, science backs it up too. So accept your tears for the true friend that they are and dismiss anyone who calls them your enemy.




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