How many times have you been told you have to keep it together? Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons told us “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” Miranda Lambert tells us to “Hide your crazy… and never let them see you cry,” and let’s not forget Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, telling us “There’s no crying in baseball!” Movies, songs, friends, family, customs, and sometimes our culture tells us crying isn’t an acceptable reaction.
Crying is a natural response to an array of emotions from sorrow and frustration to joy and happiness.
The tears that we release due to our emotions offer several health benefits:
Reduces Stress. When you cry emotional tears there are traces of stress chemicals which could mean that crying decreases the stress level in your body. There is also research that indicates emotional crying stimulates your body to release endorphins which create a happy feeling as well as activates the parasympathetic nervous system allowing you to relax and recover.
Lowers Blood Pressure. According to Aging Care, “Crying has been found to lower blood pressure and pulse rate immediately following when someone cries and is able to vent.” High blood pressure increases your chances of heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and a hypertensive crisis.
Strengthens Relationships. To cry in front of others can leave you feeling vulnerable, ashamed, or even embarrassed. This vulnerability allows others to see a side of us that humanizes us and can allow for deeper bonds to be created between us and our friends and family. Marlo Sollitto says it best, “Crying serves an important social function. It communicates the strength and nature of relationships, elicits sympathy and even assistance, and draws individuals closer to one another.” It is through this emotional connection that we are able to acknowledge our emotions, learn to empathize and embrace our humanity.
Crying is one way to accept and value your feelings. The University of Illinois recommends asking yourself the following questions:
- What is this feeling?
- What is this feeling telling me about this situation?
- Why is this feeling happening now?
As you learn the connection between your emotions and the situation that leads up to the emotion, you are better able to address the emotion with a healthy approach. Many times our emotion is not a direct result of the actual event, but rather our interpretation of that event. Each individual comes with their own perspective due to past events, culture, and bias that results in each of us interpreting an event very differently. When addressing the emotion, is best to stop and think about it. Are you filtering, overgeneralizing, assuming something, or looking at the event in all or nothing thinking? Examining your thoughts and interpretation may help you better understand your emotional reaction.
So, go ahead and have yourself a good cry.