When I was 16, I had a great Saturday job which involved very little work and provided lots of free stuff. I worked in my town’s library and could borrow as many books (and tapes, CDs and videos!) as I liked. It was a very relaxing place to work as it was so quiet – not yet the realm of singing sessions and toddler play areas like there are nowadays… Many of my friends worked in noisier, busier places, under much worse conditions and for less reward. I was very lucky to have such a great introduction to work-life (compared to the scarring of the stint I did in a men’s clothes shop during the holidays once – urgh, the BOREDOM!).
Quietness in an atmosphere means there is the presence of quiet minds; quiet minds are not only relaxed, they can concentrate easily and create more freely. Every time I go to the library, I feel calm and reassured by the relative peace and the quiet way people move around the space. It got me thinking about how we can inhabit a library-like space in our minds, browsing the accumulated wisdom on the shelves of life. When we ‘visit’ the library in our minds, we can listen to the silence and be aware of the stillness. #loveyourlibrary
No, not my usual gratuitous opportunity for a Justin Timberlake track (though if you’re interested: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DksSPZTZES0; oh, doesn’t he look young, and a bit creepy…?!). Today’s blog is about crying – how having a good cry can be restorative and relieving. It’s not a new concept obviously, but it’s something that I have employed recently in place of my usual ‘get even busier and do even more exercise’ coping method. It feels cleansing, a way to release pent-up emotions so they don’t lodge in the body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration.
It’s not just about emotional benefits either: tears are salt water and they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.
Did you know this? Our bodies produce three kinds of tears: reflex, continuous, and emotional. Each kind has different healing roles. For instance, reflex tears allow your eyes to clear out noxious particles when they’re irritated by smoke or exhaust. The second kind, continuous tears, are produced regularly to keep our eyes lubricated: these contain a chemical called ‘lysozyme’ which functions as an anti-bacterial and protects our eyes from infection. Tears also travel to the nose through the tear duct to keep the nose moist and bacteria free. Typically, after crying, our breathing, and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.
Emotional tears have special health benefits. Biochemist and ‘tear expert’ Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also indicate that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and ‘feel-good’ hormones. Interestingly, humans are the only creatures known to shed emotional tears, though it’s possible that that elephants and gorillas do too. Other mammals and also salt-water crocodiles produce reflex tears which are protective and lubricating.
Crying makes us feel better, even when a problem persists. So rather than trying to block emotions, how about we let them out and weep away the hours?
I’m about to do something that really scares me: putting myself firmly in the public domain with my online exercise guides and videos (and even going on Instagram at www.instagram.com/cleanwellbeingjoanna – reaching peak millennial!). They are coming soon!
Why does it put the frighteners up me so much? It’s as simple as not liking my photo being taken or being on video. Despite my many years of being a teacher and trainer, being ‘up at the front’ of the room and really enjoying it, I still have a pathological dislike of having my photo taken. Being able to ‘read the room’ is so important and crucial to how I teach and train, but that’s impossible with recorded images, so it’s a bit of journey into the unknown.
Regardless, I’m pressing on as my 2018 is a mini ‘ground zero’ – a time to re-think, re-group and re-imagine life… and to do more things that encourage me forwards. I’m sticking my head up, finally ready for the experience and able to cope with being looked at. It’s a big deal for me – and I’d love for you to join me above the parapet!
Here's a sneak preview of one of these photos. More to come soon!
Whether you subscribe to the notion that ‘you are what you think’ or not, there is something to be said for your thoughts having an effect on you. And if you harness the power of your thoughts by thinking ‘big’, amazing things can happen. You can rise above the little things too. No more keeping yourself small (and perhaps insignificant…).
It’s not only about thinking big either – you can believe big, act big, dream big, work big, give big, forgive big, laugh big, imagine big, love big, live big (are your eyes going funny because they’ve seen the word big too much?!). Take on this list of ‘big’ and you'll probably start feeling bigger. Be a believer in big and see where it takes you. An awfully big adventure awaits!
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
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