When was the last time you cried? Growing up, were you ever told to stop crying? Sadly, many societies think that crying is a sign of weakness more so if you are a boy. Males are highly discouraged from crying and showing their emotions because for many, it lessens masculinity. There are certain behaviors associated with boys and crying is definitely not one of them, “big boys don’t cry”. Despite this popular social perception, the truth is actually quite the opposite. People who cry a lot are mentally strong.
Crying is the natural way of the body to cope up with mental stress. Negative emotions will build up if we try to hold back our tears. Thus, a good cry is beneficial to our health. Because of its health benefits, the Japanese even have “crying clubs” called Rui-Katsu. In these clubs, people come together literally to sob. They organize crying activities such as watching sad movies to encourage people to cry to release stress.
Here are ways on how crying makes us physical and mentally strong:
Reflex tears, the type when get something in our eyes, clear irritants such as wind, pollen and dusts from the eyes. Emotional tears release stress hormones such as cortisol and other toxins. Cortisol, considered the primary stress hormone builds up in the body when we are stressed. Chronic and elevated levels of cortisol in the body can lead to other illnesses. Tears help upload these hormones and other harmful chemicals.
Did you know that crying is a self-soothing behavior? A study on crying reveals that it regulates moods and reduces stress. A person’s moods improves after a good cry. When we are stressed, the body automatically goes to “fight or flight” response mode. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) then should come in restore the body to a calm state. Crying activates the PNS to help the body relax.
Allowing yourself to feel the pain is actually making yourself deal with your emotions. Rather than running away from it, crying helps you face your feelings. This is a necessary process to recovery. Learning to face our fears will make us more resilient. It makes us stronger individuals.
Sleep is a very important factor in our overall health. Troubles normally keep you awake at night. To get a good night sleep, it helps to cry. When you cry, the body not just simply releases stress hormones, it also releases your emotional trauma. That’s why you feel tired after sobbing. It is calming and tiring at the same time. Fatigue will lead you to sleep better.
Another kind of tear, the basal tears are the ones which are always present in your eyes. They are released continuously to lubricate the entire eye surface each time you blink. Basal tears are considered part of your immune system for they fight against bacterial infection. It also prevents your mucous membranes from drying out. When mucous membranes dry out, your vision becomes blurry. At the same time, if it is continually lubricated, your vision improves.
So, if you are faced with a difficult challenge, go ahead, cry your heart out. It’s okay to not be okay.