Everybody thinks crying is silly or is a sign of weakness, but if science is to be believed, it is a doorway to a calm and collected mind and emotional health.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 13, 2020. It has since been updated.
When we hurt ourselves or feel something that breaks our hearts, tears start brimming in our eyes and it doesn't take much time for it to flow down our cheeks. According to Psychology Today, tears are saltwater, just like the ocean. It helps lubricate our eyes and remove irritants.
According to Medical News Today, there are three types of tears:
Basal: A protein-rich antibacterial liquid which is constantly secreted by the tear ducts. It keeps the eyes moist every time we blink.
Reflex: Wind, smoke, and onions trigger these tears. They help clear out the irritants from the eyes and protect it.
Emotional: These tears are a response to the high-intensity fluctuations of emotions that humans feel. They have more levels of stress hormones than other types.
Humans shed tears in response to a range of emotions. These tears contain a higher level of stress hormones than other types of tears. Tears sure help keep our eyes protected, but did you know that there are mental benefits of crying too?
Here is a list of crying benefits that you never noticed but sure have felt at one point or the other.
There is an immense shift in the mood once you cry. Studies have pointed out that most criers have felt that they felt better after crying especially when they were comforted by someone else. When you receive support from someone else, it elevates the comfort level which makes you feel at ease and relatively happier. Dr. Ad Vingerhoets, Ph.D., Professor of Clinical Psychology at Tilburg University, and author of Why Only Humans Weep confirms, “In many cases, the better mood after having cried is thus the consequence of receiving emotional support and comfort," according to The Healthy.
The relief you feel after a long session of crying rivers is genuine. All that rolling down of tears has relieved you of your stress. It is believed that emotional crying has a higher level of hormones than the regular ones and so when even though nothing might've changed, the situation or people, but there sure is a change in the emotional status, according to Power of Positivity. You can sometimes feel the relief with every drop of tear that falls down.
We've all had those long nights where we've cried our eyes out. The next day we're left with puffy eyes, right? Well, you should be happy that you cried because when you did, there was a healthy release of oxytocin and endogenous opioids in your body also known as endorphins. These chemicals are the feel-good ones and help in easing both emotional and physical pain. The release of these chemicals makes the body numb and calms it down.
Researchers have found that when you cry, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)is activated. It helps the body to rest and digest. However, while the effects are felt immediately, the soothing feeling takes several minutes to come into effect. It can also help balance and restore your emotional equilibrium. According to the researchers at Yale University, when you are extremely happy, scared, or stressed, your crying because of these emotions is just your body's way of recovering and stabilizing itself after experiencing such strong emotions, as per Healthline.
Once the burden is off your chest after you cry, your mind gets back to work. The dark shadow of emotions clouding your mind from finding the solution to your problem disappears after you let the river flow. Now, since your head is clear, your ability to make the hard decisions is restored. One crying session can give you the courage that you had been trying to muster up all this while to have the uncomfortable talk with the person who was the reason for your grief or face the situation that was making you uncomfortable. You can finally move forward since your emotions are not weighing you down anymore.
A good night's sleep is very necessary for the body to rest. Stress and non vocalized emotions can keep building up inside you affecting your sleep enormously. When you cry, you finally feel peace take over your mind. You relax and feel peacefully exhausted.
Tears are a way of expression. Consider yourself lucky because we are the only creatures who can cry tears and express that we're not okay and we need support. So embrace it the next time your cry and enjoy the calmness that you'll feel afterward.