The Benefits of Crying
We’ve all heard that it’s okay to cry, and gradually, our culture is shifting in such a way that crying is becoming more normalized and socially acceptable. This is a wonderful step in the right direction, but many of us still suffer the cultural or familial indoctrinations that crying is a sign of weakness or something that should only be done in private. In short, there are still a whole lot of people who are ashamed to cry.
Not only is crying okay, it’s actually beneficial. Stuffing our emotions, whether the tears stem from sadness, anger, or physical pain, can actually create deeper psychological wounds, negatively impact our behavior and relationships, and cause us to suffer from health issues, including increased risk of high blood pressure and heart attack. Not only does allowing the tears to flow relieve the stress that can cause a spike in your blood pressure, it also cleanses your body of “bad” hormones that can lead to an array of health issues ranging from cardiovascular to gastrointestinal. Some studies have even shown a tie between suppressed emotions and increased risk of certain types of cancer.
Crying relieves stress. If you’ve ever had a good, hard cry, you know that afterwards you might feel somewhat drained or “spent,” experience a deep sense of relief, or have a deep sense of clarity, in which you can think more logically and your problems don’t seem as insurmountable as they did before you cried. Not only that, crying releases endorphins, so you might even be in a good mood after you cry. It isn’t uncommon for a person who has just had a big cry to then move on to being able to laugh, joke, and socialize because they feel so much happier and lighter.
Crying with other people, and allowing them to comfort you, might actually benefit both of you. A study conducted by Dr. Oren Hassan at Tel Aviv University revealed that generally speaking, both the crying person and the person offering comfort experience emotional benefits from these exchanges, and that the bond between them is strengthened. Unless we have severe emotional issues of our own, most of us respond to signals of vulnerability in others by feeling empathy and a strong desire to help the person in distress. Evolutionarily speaking, this helped us survive on a physical level. We might have different stressors and reasons for crying nowadays, but not all that much has changed… We still need each other to survive and thrive.
The next time you feel the tears building up, instead of fighting them back, let them flow. If you’re in a situation where you feel that crying is completely inappropriate or even dangerous (like driving during rush hour), and absolutely must withhold the tears, allow yourself the space and time to feel your feelings and cry once you’re in a place where it is physically and emotionally safe to do so. In the end, bucking up will only drag you under.
Devon is a Licensed Mental Health/Substance Abuse Counselor, Personal Life Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and a nationally certified teacher. She is committed to helping young people be their highest selves in all areas: body, mind, and spirit. Her expertise, enthusiasm, energy and educational background serve to create a unique blend of services and techniques employed to help you reach your goals. For counseling sessions, coaching, or training, please contact her at 505.469.0779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.