I have a dear friend and colleague that always tells me when I am stressed that I just needs to have a good cry. She even recommends that I watch a Korean Drama to help to get me to cry.
I hate to cry and I have talked to many people who feel the same way. Once the flood gates open and I cry, I feel fuzzy brained and light headed for up to 2 days. But whether I like it or not the reality is that crying is actually good for your health and psychologists have come up with some benefits of crying and as much as I have not found my love for it I want to share them with you.
● Crying soothes you by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that helps us relax, calm down and reduce muscle tension. The parasympathetic is the opposite of the sympathetic which is going when we have hypervigilance and stress and we need the parasympathetic to calm us down.
● Crying is a safety valve to stop us from repressing our emotions and stress which can lead to a decrease in immune resilience. Suppression of feelings has also been linked to such diseases as hypertension, vascular disease, depression, stress and anxiety. When the feelings get too strong, when we cry it prevents the repression and hopefully some of the diseases that go with it.
● Crying relieves stress and it's much healthier than alcohol or drugs. If you realize that crying helps relieve stress, you are more likely to let yourself cry and less likely to just numb yourself.
● Crying increases connections - when we are vulnerablewith people it can significantly increase closeness to others. By sharing our feelings, especially the strong ones with people this can create a deeper more authentic bond.
● Crying kills bacteria by releasing lysozymes which can kill 90-95% of bacteria in just 5-10 minutes. They kill the bacteria by destroying the outer cell wall of the bacterial cell.
There are 3 types of tears and they all do slightly different things:
Reflex tears – These tears wash away particles and irritants like smoke and they only form when irritants are around. They are made up of 98% water and come from our lacrimal gland. They also have antibodies present. This is the first tear released when we cry and is the largest amount of our tears.
Basal tears – These are the tears in our eyes at all times and they are our lubicrant. They nourish, lubricate and protect our cornea. They act as a constant shield between our eyes and our world at large. There are 3 layers to the basal tears; oil (lipid) layer, water (aqueous) layer and muccin (glycosylated protein or protectant barrier) layer.
Emotional Tears – These are produced when we are feeling highly emotional either happy or sad and they actually help our body release toxins. Emotional tears also release endorphins a feel good chemical which the body produces and helps with physical and emotional pain.
The body produces 5 to 10 oz of tears a day so you are literally able to cry yourself dry, so even if you let yourself cry there will be an end a physical end.
So as much as I hate crying, it does a body good. I am going to try and let myself cry next time I need to, maybe I will be wild and try it in front of someone too someday.