If you think crying is a sign of weakness, you are dead wrong! Crying is not only a cathartic means of letting go of frustration, grief, and stress, but doing so will keep you physically and emotionally healthy. Tears release oxytocin, the “love hormone,” and opioid-like, “feel-good” chemical endorphins that may dull physical and emotional pain.
According to researchers, not crying, suppressing potent feelings, and unresolved grief will not only set you up for depression but can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues and stress-related disorders. Crying is done more often than you think, and both sexes tend to shed tears more often than you think. In the United States, women cry an average of 3.5 times per month, and men boohoo about 1.9 times a month.
As folks age, there seems to be a lot more to cry about, like the loss of family/friends/partners, loneliness, cynicism about life, frustration about no longer being able to do for self, and health issues; these types of life events can make someone shed quite a few tears. Life’s curveballs will most likely make an older person not suffer from emotional incontinence as the years progress.
What are the health benefits of crying?
- Gets rid of toxins—Crying can cleanse the body of toxins and rid it of stress hormones. A study conducted by Dr. William H. Frey II, a biochemist, and director of the Psychiatry Research Laboratories at the St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Centre in Minnesota, found that other processes, including exhaling, urinating, and sweating, toxic substances are also released from the body when we cry.
- Kills bacteria—Tears produce a chemical named lysozyme, which is a great fighter against bacterial growth. Lysozyme can kill about 90-95% of bacteria. A 2011 study published in the journal Food Microbiology found that tears have such strong antimicrobial powers they can even protect against the intentional contamination of anthrax.
- Relieves stress—Crying brings on relief because it releases stress hormones even if the situation you’re grieving about remains the same. Pent-up emotions that can debilitate or stress you out emotionally can get washed away with a good crying session.
- Elevates mood—Experts contend that crying works better than many antidepressant drugs at lifting spirits. A 2008 study from the University of South Florida found that crying can be self-soothing and elevate mood better than many antidepressants. Boo-hooing kicked up the moods of nearly 90 percent of criers compared to the eight percent who reported crying made them feel worse. Individuals with anxiety or mood disorders were less likely to experience the uplifting effects of shedding a few tears.
- Helps get your point across—In a relationship, crying while having a serious discussion can emphasize or underscore a point that was not made clear before. It can put an end to a screamfest by reducing aggression. Crying can make feelings better understood, promote empathy and build up your social support network when all seems lost.
- Improves vision—The lubrication that is produced when crying can help improve eyesight. Dry eyes can cause blurry vision. According to the National Eye Institute, tears can wash away eye debris and dust and keep them moist. Tears also prevent the dehydration of the mucous membranes.
- Improves blood pressure—Crying has been found to lower blood pressure and pulse rate immediately following therapy sessions, during which patients cried and vented. High blood pressure can affect your heart, leading to stroke, heart failure, and even dementia.
- Reduces Manganese—The simple act of crying also reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral that affects mood, and is found in significantly higher concentrations in tears than in blood serum. Elevated levels can be associated with tremors, excitability, reduced cognitive function, and aggression.
Allow yourself to get it all out by letting the tears flow. Crying is a sign of strength, and self-awareness and flushes out all that needs to be released, so have a go at it!