17 Amazing Benefits of Crying
Don't fight those tears—they're trying to help you!
Some people see tearing up as a sign of weakness, but crying can have many benefits to your health and overall well-being. Recently, supermodel and actress Cara Delevingne took to Instagram to "remind everyone the importance of crying." She posted a picture of her tear-stained face and wrote, "We all have to feel at some point." That we do! Experts say crying is actually an important part of processing emotions and overcoming traumatic events.
It might not be particularly fun to feel sad or stressed, but crying is a natural reaction to those emotions. When you let yourself cry, you'll find that you're able to overcome your negative feelings much more easily. Here, we've gathered some of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of crying that will make you feel better about shedding a few tears every now and again.
It helps release stress.
If you find yourself feeling a sense of relief after a good cry, there's a scientific explanation for that. "Stress hormones are found in tears, and so crying literally releases pent-up emotional stress," explains Sarah Thacker, a New York-based therapist and health coach.
It's a sign that a pent up emotion is being let out.
"Crying is often therapeutic and beneficial when clients are accessing an emotion that they have not felt safe sharing or that they have not wanted to face head-on," explains Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Texas and author of Major Life Changes: Stories of Motherhood, Hope and Healing. Whether you're dealing with the loss of a loved one or are just stressed about switching jobs, McBain says it's important to let your tears flow freely. One of the true benefits of crying is accepting how you are feeling and being OK with it, she explains.
It helps your body bounce back from trauma.
"Your emotions and your hormones are intrinsically connected," explains Tina B. Tessina, PhD, a psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction. "Emotional reactions to events send hormones coursing through your body, and crying is your body's and mind's way to re-balance after a physical or emotional shock."
It signals to others that you need support.
When a person witnesses another person tearing up, their natural reaction is to run and comfort the soul in need. And even if the person crying doesn't realize it, they teared up because that's what they wanted. As a meta-analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology explained, crying "is a key attachment behavior intended to elicit care and comfort from close others throughout life." At the end of the day, the best type of comfort comes in the form of human touch, and even our bodies subconsciously understand this.
It soothes physical pain.
Don't be ashamed about crying when you break a bone or burn your hand. Research has found that when you cry, the body releases feel-good hormones, like oxytocin, that increase pain tolerance and bring about a sense of serenity—and both of these are a huge help when it comes to overcoming pain.
Under the right circumstances, "a good cry is cleansing and leaves you feeling lighter and more able to cope," says Tessina. However, you have to train yourself to be able to spot the difference between a healthy cry and an unhealthy one. While a good cry is soothing, an unhealthy cry stemming from self-pity can lead to you blaming others for your problems without figuring out how to handle the issues you're faced with.
It allows you to be happy, too.
"We are meant for all emotions, not just the positive ones," explains Erika Miley, M.Ed, LMHC, a mental and sexual health therapist in Spokane Valley, Washington. "Allowing yourself to be sad and cry means you are not numbing those emotions that you perceive as negative emotions. When we numb selective emotions, we are actually numbing all of them. Allowing yourself to cry will allow for you to experience joy, happiness, and all of the other emotions we are meant for."
It's the fastest way to move on.
After a significant loss—like the death of a loved one or a bad breakup—some people choose to be angry and others choose to be sad. But those who cry the pain away may be able to heal faster. "Don't waste time in resentment and anger—it's self-destructive," says Tessina. "Everyone needs to know how to grieve and how to be sad in order to get over difficult events. There are a certain number of tears you must cry to let go, and getting on with crying is the fastest way."
It brings people closer together.
When you cry in front of someone else, it signals to them that you're willing to show them your vulnerable side. Typically humans are only willing to show emotion in front of people they trust—and so when you cry amongst friends and family members, you are inadvertently strengthening your bonds with them, too.
It keeps your eyes clean.
Believe it or not, your tears are what clean your eyes every time you blink. These basal tears, as they're known, both wash out bacteria and keep the eyes moist, thus preventing vision loss and eyesight problems.
It's a natural part of the healing process.
"I encourage allowing the opportunity to feel your feelings, to let feelings out, and to experience the benefits of release," says Thacker. "When you let the tears flow, often you can let the feelings go, too."
It alters your mood.
Crying releases feel-good hormones and helps the body and mind return to normal, so it's a natural way to alter your mood. A Yale study found that crying can make you feel more stable. "People may be restoring emotional equilibrium with these expressions," says Yale psychologist and the study's lead researcher Oriana Aragón. "People who do this seem to recover better from strong emotions."
It clears out our nasal passage.
When many people cry, they also clog up their nasal passages and therefore, have to clear them out, sometimes with a whole box of tissues. It may be messy, but it's actually quite beneficial, seeing as blowing your nose clears the nasal passage and rids it of foreign substances.
It can prevent depression.
"Most people cry too little and wind up suppressing sadness, which leads to depression," says Tessina. "It's almost impossible for people to damage anything by crying too much."
It helps you stay healthy.
Crying lowers cortisol levels and reduces stress, so it can actually protect you from getting sick or injured. The human body is much more vulnerable to things like the cold and flu when it's under stress. But by crying, you are actually doing your body a favor and keeping it healthy. And if you're curious how else stress can harm you physically, then read up on the 25 Surprising Ways Stress Affects Your Body.
It helps you sleep more soundly.
Though it may sound cruel to some parents, studies have shown that letting babies cry can actually help them sleep better and for longer periods of time. Though it's still unknown whether crying has the same sleep-inducing effect on adults, it's not a stretch to draw that conclusion, considering the calming and stress-relieving effects of crying.
It lowers blood pressure.
Several studies have found that after a good cry session, people experience both lower blood pressure and a steadier pulse, most likely due to the fact that their stress levels have gone down significantly. And if you're dealing with high blood pressure, then try these 40 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure After 40.
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