You feel it building up, the lockdown get’s extended yet again, Covid cases are on the rise, you have to delay an event yet again and work is getting overwhelming. You feel the tears building in your eyes, but you blink them back because you can’t cry.
You get yet another job rejection after applying for what feels like 200 jobs and you felt you really nailed the job interview. You feel the tears building in your eyes, but you blink them back because you can't cry.
Home schooling isn’t working out with your kids because you find them making excuses yet again, you trip on the cat, and you can’t get any time for yourself. You feel the tears start building, but you blink them back because you can’t cry.
We all know that feeling, we can feel the emotions building up and the tears at the back of our eyes begging to be released but we can’t release them because we know once we do, they won’t stop.
We’re told as adults that we shouldn’t cry and it’s a sign of weakness if we cry, but honestly there are times you just need to cry. You need to release the emotions that have been building up, you need to let things out because if you don’t you will implode and at the end of the day there is nothing like a good cry.
Women on average cry 3.5 times per month compared to men who only cry 1.9 times per month. This is probably due to the stigma attached with crying and men being told that they aren’t manly if they cry and people being able to brush women’s crying off as just hormones.
We have 3 different types of tears, each of these tears have a different genetic make-up which sets them apart:
- Basal – our tear ducts consistently flush our eyes with basal tears which are a protein rich antibacterial liquid that keeps our eyes moist whenever we blink.
- Reflex – these tears are triggered by irritants (think pollen, smoke, onions etc.) and are used to flush out the irritants.
- Emotional – these are the tears that we cry when we are happy, sad, angry etc.
Scientifically crying, has benefits and it’s a good thing to cry and let it all out. This is because when we cry, we release stress hormones and other chemicals in our tears. After a good cry we tend to feel a lot better this is because when we cry oxytocin and endorphins are released. These are known as the feel-good chemical in our bodies and proven to help with physical and emotional pain therefore lifting our spirits.
We don’t just cry when we are sad, we cry when we are happy, scared, stressed or angry. Researchers at Yale University believe this could be our bodies way to get emotionally balanced after feeling extreme emotions. Such as when we feel overwhelmed by emotion and we’re not sure how to handle those feelings, so it gets released in the form of tears. These tears have the same make-up regardless of whether they are from us being happy, sad, angry or another emotion.
When we cry, we visibly let people know we are struggling. This helps us not feel so alone in our struggles and alerts people to the fact that we need support. It can also be a sign of vulnerability and lets people know that we trust them enough to see us in this state, increasing bonds with people we are close to.
Keeping the tears inside of us it can actually have a detrimental effect on us including a reduced immune system, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. It can also make depression and anxiety worse if we don’t cry.
Of course, there is such a thing as too much crying and it being a sign of mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Especially if we find ourselves crying everyday for no apparent reason, in these cases it’s best to talk to a professional and see if there is an underlying cause for crying.
There are also times when we should cry and we can’t cry, which could be a symptom of depression, especially when you’re feeling emotional, and you want to cry but there’s no tears to be found (this could be described as feeling numb).
In Japan they are such believers in the health benefits of crying they have crying clubs where groups of people all get together and watch a sad movie or video clips and cry together (it’s called cry therapy). For many people this may seem anxiety inducing as crying is something many people do in private. But there are benefits to doing it with others including bringing a sense of community and shared vulnerability so maybe the Japanese are onto something. However, I am unsure if this trend will ever catch on in Australia.
As much as we may hate crying and showing people our emotions, it’s good to cry and should be encouraged. The health benefits of crying clearly outweigh the benefits of not crying however it’s perfectly fine to not want to cry in front of people and find a private place to cry. There is also no shame with bottling it up and letting out while watching a sad movie in the comfort of your own home.
Let the tears fall and know that it’s good to cry and let yourself feel things. When times are hard, and you feel yourself blinking back the tears for what seems like the 100th time that day let them out and welcome the tears because crying is normal and when times are tough you sometimes just need to let out all the emotions and afterwards you will so much better.
Feel free to drop by, just say, ‘Hey Barty’ in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.
GraÄanin, A., Bylsma, L.M. and Vingerhoets, A.J.J.M. (2014). Is crying a self-soothing behavior? Frontiers in Psychology, 5.
Legg, T.J. (2017a). 8 benefits of crying: Why do we cry, and when to seek support. [online] www.medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319631.
Legg, T.J. (2017b). 9 Benefits of Crying. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-crying#detox.
Newhouse, L. (2021). Is crying good for you? [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-crying-good-for-you-2021030122020.
Shaikh, J. (2021). Are There Any Benefits to Crying? [online] MedicineNet. Available at: https://www.medicinenet.com/are_there_any_benefits_to_crying/article.htm [Accessed 16 Feb. 2022].
Tiret, H. (2018). Benefits of crying. [online] Healthy Relationships. Available at: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/benefits-of-crying#:~:text=All%20humans%20can%20benefit%20from [Accessed 16 Feb. 2022].
WebMD (2015). Is Crying Good for You? [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/is-crying-good-for-you.