Many of us were told not to cry when we were growing up. While our parents probably meant well (and may have needed some peace and quiet), it is really not good to curtail the body’s natural response to anger, sadness, and other negative emotions. Crying actually has a place in a healthy life.
The fact that tears are an almost irresistible impulse under certain circumstances points to their necessity in our lives. Some doctors insist that tears are essential for you to process grief effectively. Breathing improves after crying, becoming deeper. This deep breathing is important for the controlling of anger and anxiety. Perhaps crying can help control those things for us.
Tears are the body’s way of releasing negative emotions. We may not like it, but it’s how we are designed. If we go ahead and let our tears flow, our emotional health can benefit.
There are psychologists who consider it a milestone and a breakthrough when their patients cry. These doctors have learned that suppressed emotions foster depression and anger.
It’s not just your emotions that benefit from a good cry. Some doctors have analyzed the content of tears, and theorize that crying actually releases toxins from the body. Cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, is present in greater amounts in tears cried as a result of emotion than those shed as the result of an irritant, such as a cut onion. This indicates that the hormone is being physically removed from the body by the tears. When we say we are “letting it all out” with a good cry, we may be more correct than we realize!
Then there are the physical effects of the tears themselves. They wash out any irritants and give the eyes lubrication. They do “purge” the eye in a very real sense, washing its surface. Tears also wash away germs that could enter through the vulnerable mucous membranes of the eye.
Physical touch also helps people heal, and crying often elicits a touch or embrace from someone else. This physical contact may play a role in the healing properties of a good cry.
Encourage Others to Cry
It may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s important to encourage your loved ones to cry when they need to. People would do more healthful crying if they had supportive family and friends around whom they would not feel embarrassed to cry. Some things that can help a person release his or her tears are:
* Hug or embrace that person
* Tell them it’s okay if they cry
* Assure them that their tears do not offend you or make you uncomfortable