When you see another person crying, you imagine the worst. But the truth is that crying not only serves to express nostalgia, sadness, grief, pain or anger, but also happiness or joy. Numerous studies have provided evidence backing the benefits of crying on a person’s physical and emotional well-being.
You already know that we use crying to express what we’re feeling at any given moment, usually negative feelings. Crying is natural, good and more normal than people think. We’re not stronger or more mentally stable if we don’t cry. In fact, the benefits of crying are many, and here we’ll tell you some of the biggest ones.
Not all tears are created equal
People produce three kinds of tears. Each kind has a different composition, depending on its function and origin.
- Basal tears are mainly made of proteins and keep your eyes moist after each blink.
- Reflexive tears are released in response to certain external agents, such as smoke or wind. They protect your eyes from irritation.
- Emotional or psychic tears come as a response to emotions, and these ones are what we refer to when we say we’re crying. They contain neuromodulatory elements (prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormones and leu-enkephalin) that function as natural painkillers.
Crying is calming
Crying helps soothe you and let off steam. But it also enables you to change and it helps with a much deeper underlying condition: anguish. Crying is good for you.
Why? Because crying activates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for maintaining or promoting relaxation and rest in the body after it makes some effort. Activating the PNS triggers reactions in your body, which helps it react to stress and participate in metabolic regulation.
Crying is a pain-reliever, mood booster, and sleep enhancer
A 2014 study found that emotional tears release two substances people need to feel good: oxytocin and endorphins. Bad feelings, both physical and emotional, are alleviated because these hormones generate a sensation of pleasure and profound well-being.
After crying, sometimes we laugh or smile. How could it be that a moment ago you were running out of tissues and now you’re smiling? Because oxytocin and endorphins improve your mood. Its soothing, mood-boosting, and pain-relieving effect will also help you sleep better and fall asleep more easily.
Tears protect you from bacteria
Lysozyme, an enzyme in tears, plays an essential role here. It acts as a bacteriostatic barrier, because it alters and undoes bacteria cell walls. Therefore, at the physical level, it is a very effective and natural way to keep your eyes safe and clean. In fact, research says that it even helps protect you from substances like anthrax and overcome the resistance that bacteria have developed to antibiotics.
Crying is a stress-reliever
This is one of the best benefits of crying, don’t you think? When you cry in response to stress, your tears release a chemicals that are the same as what caused the stress in the first place. Paradoxical, but true.
For example, when you cry, your manganese levels decrease. Manganese is a mineral closely related to states of anxiety, nerves and aggression. Crying also lowers your adrenaline and noradrenaline, substances you secrete more in stressful or dangerous situations.
Crying is cry for empathy
Normally, when you see another person cry, you empathize with them and offer your shoulder to cry on. You assume that they need help or that something terrible has happened. You take it to mean that they are hurt or distressed. In any case, their crying draws us to them.
Crying is a way to get comfort and support from the people around us. The reason is attachment behavior. From this perspective, crying is a way of asking for help or interpersonal benefits.
Crying helps you get to know yourself better
Some authors, such as Michael Trimble, claim that there is a whole “science of crying”. This could explain why some people are more likely to cry than others. Other experts, such as Ad Vingerhoets, say that the number of times someone else cries depends on two specific personality traits: empathy and neuroticism.
In either case, knowing yourself better is one of the great benefits of crying. Sometimes crying is considered a sign of weakness, when in reality it is a sign of emotional strength. Tears say a lot about us. They give us insight into our weaknesses, when and how much we need others, and what affects us.
Now you know the benefits of crying. By holding back your tears, you’re getting in the way of an emotional cleansing you may badly need. Therefore there’s no need to feel fear or shame about expressing yourself. Let it out!