While some mammals’ eyes will water when irritated, humans are the only animals who shed tears due to an emotional response. The response may be varied— from the pain you feel after the loss of a loved one, to the joy that bubbles over during your wedding, to the red-hot burning anger you felt when you were betrayed. However, the physical reaction is often shared— a release of hot or warm emotional energy in the form of tears. It is something so innately human yet so shunned within our society. We are told countless times to “suck it up,” or “it’s not that big of a deal” or “you’re just being dramatic.” So we keep it in and hide our emotions, so much so that we become ashamed of them. However, here are six reasons why crying is actually a sign of strength.
It flushes out emotional toxins
Along with the water and sodium, your tears contain several stress hormones. When they are released through the crying process, many researchers believe that you are cleansing yourself of those negative feelings. After a crying session, we often feel detoxified and lighter, to allow for a more stress-free mindset.
It can help your immune system
Because crying flushes out some of those stress hormones, it releases tight muscles and tension internally. It also contains the hormone, prolactin which provides a boost to the immune system.
It balances you
A previous study revealed that crying actually helps to balance and regulate emotions and release your own stress. This is because it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls homeostasis (stability) and rest. Thus, you are directly helping to stabilize your emotions and create a more balanced state in the body.
It improves your mood
The act of prolonged crying can release feel-good hormone, oxytocin, and endorphins (just like the ones you get from working out or laughing), which can dull the emotional or physical pain that you may be experiencing and promote an improved mood.
It helps gather support
Crying is developed as an attachment behavior when you are an infant, which is an instinctual call for comfort and help from others. People around you will often respond to tears with kindness and care, which can help you build a vital support network when you are dealing with emotional pain.
It aids in the healing process
When you criticize your own emotions and downplay your problems, you will never be able to process them on the level that they truly affect you. Completely accepting and tolerating your own tears require great strength in the path to healing. When you cry, you process all sorts of emotions related to the more obvious reason, allowing you to mend old wounds in your heart.
There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to shedding tears. In fact, its health benefits are undeniable. Tears are a healthy, natural response that separates us from other animals and reminds us that we are also human. So, let it out, everyone!