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?
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
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Clean Well-being blog