Whether it is the end of a relationship, a sad scene from your favorite movie or frustration at work, we all end up crying from time to time. Even happy moments, such as seeing your baby for the first time or meeting with an old friend after many years, can bring on the tears.
In fact, your lacrimal glands produce 10 ounces of tears every day and almost 30 gallons per year. Also, women cry more often than men do. A 2014 article published by the American Psychological Association states that women cry an average of 5.3 times a month, while men cry an average of 1.3 times per month.
Crying releases tears that can either be basal tears, reflex tears or even psychic tears (tears produced by emotions). While reflex tears are 98 percent water, emotional tears contain higher levels of stress hormones.
While this stream of salty tears blurs your vision and makes your eyes puffy, you might wonder what benefits could the cascade of tears have on your psyche?
When you shed emotional tears, you are actually eliminating toxins and hormones from your body that accumulate during stress. Plus, tears are capable of calming your iris and soothing your eyes. However, for those who are beauty-conscious, you’ll want to wash away your tears before going to bed to avoid puffy and swollen eyes the next morning.
Also, tears purge negative energy out of your body, allowing for new, positive energy to build up. So, crying is normal, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Just grab a box of tissues, cry your heart out and let go of all your sorrows reading these benefits of crying.
Here are some of the surprising reasons why crying is actually good for you.
1. Helps Flush Out Toxins
Crying helps rid your body of harmful toxins and chemicals, some of which raise your levels of cortisol, the stress-related hormone.
Like other exocrine secretions including urinating, sweating and exhaling, crying helps purge the body of excess stress chemicals and unwanted toxins that build up from emotional tension and may end up affecting your health adversely.
The tears help in releasing toxins and chemicals like the adrenocorticotropic hormones (ACTH) and protein prolactin, while inducing leucine-enkephalin (an endorphin) that acts as natural painkiller for the body.
In fact, when it comes to eliminating toxins, tears are similar to natural therapy or massage sessions, but they cost a lot less!
However, cleansing is possible only through stress-related tears. It has nothing to do with tears caused by physical irritants.
2. Helps Deal with Stress
Crying is a safe and effective way to deal with stress.
Emotional tears are a major reason for the release of excess cortisol from the body. While you cry, your tears eject this hormone, thus actually relieving stress and tension and making you feel better.
Not only this, tears contain 30 times more manganese (a mood-altering mineral) than your blood. Thus, crying eliminates this from the body and makes you feel lighter and stress-free.
During stressful times, it is important to cry. This will help reduce the risk for a heart attack and brain damage. Stress is also linked to a number of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Moreover, crying removes chemicals like ACTH that build up in the body during stress. Removal of this chemical is important as it triggers cortisol, which can further lead to several health issues.
A good cry can make your feel much better during stress. It can even help deal with negative feelings and frustrations.
3. Improves Mood
Watching a sad movie and crying will initially cause your mood to take a dip, but subsequently your mood returns to higher than baseline levels.
Crying releases endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormones, into the body that make you feel great. Moreover, endorphins have a slight sedating effect that helps you sleep better after crying.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality evidenced the truth of the statement that crying episodes result in mood improvement.
A 2014 study published in Frontiers in Psychology revealed that crying can be self-soothing and can help elevate your mood, better than any antidepressant.
To substantiate the statement, a study was conducted in 2015 and published in Motivation and Emotion. Researchers observed the relation between crying and mood recovery and found that although you face initial deterioration of mood following crying, it apparently takes some time for the mood to recover, and it becomes even less negative than before the emotional event.
However, people with anxiety or mood disorders are less likely to benefit from crying.
4. Improves Vision
The act of crying helps clean and protect the eyes from irritants as well as improves vision.
When your eyes come under attack of some foreign bodies or irritants, your lacrimal glands get activated to stimulate more fluid into the eyes and wash and drain out the irritant.
This fluid, also known as reflex tears, contains glucose and lysozyme, antibacterial and antiviral enzymes that protect and nourish the cells on the surface and inside the eyes. It works to dissolve and break down the outer protective wall of the bacteria, thus killing them and preventing any damage to the eyes.
Moreover, the National Eye Institute states that crying helps keep the mucous membranes in the eyes hydrated and lubricated. It continuously bathes the surface of the eyes with fluids that keep it moist and wash away all the debris and dirt.
Lubrication and hydration of the eyeballs and eyelids directly helps in clearing up vision. After a good cry, you will have a comparatively better and clearer vision.
5. Keeps the Nose Moisturized
Crying moisturizes and removes bacteria from the nose by releasing tears into the nose through the tear ducts.
Your tears travel down internally through the nasolacrimal ducts into the internal nasal mucus in the nasal passage. This explains why you get a runny nose when you cry!
When enough tears mix with the mucus, it forms a liquid snot that loosens and sheds mucus from the nose, thus moisturizing the nose and washing away any dirt and bacteria.
6. Kills Bacteria and Improves Immunity
The tears that come out while crying are strong antibacterial and antiviral agents that help get rid of all the germs accumulated during the day.
Tears contain lysozymes, which are strong antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral enzymes that contribute to killing bacteria in the eyes. It breaks down the walls of bacterial cells, and provides a protective coating to the inner and outer surfaces of the eyes.
In fact, lysozymes can kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria in just a few minutes.
They help in fighting illness and infections in the eyes. So, shedding tears is an effective way to boost your immunity against the very stress that is depleting you.
7. Releases Bottled-Up Emotions
Crying encourages you to face your painful emotions with full force. It acts as emotional perspiration of feelings, a release, a psychological tonic for your body.
In fact, shedding tears is a healthy catharsis and a natural way of relieving tension in the mind. While crying does not take away your problems, it definitely helps you deal with them in a more level-headed manner.
Moreover, crying for emotional release is all the rage. The Japanese have resorted to a therapy called the ‘crying boom’ to relieve them of any emotional stress. So, after a tiring day at work, instead of going to a karaoke bar, many Japanese people watch weepy films at these crying clubs to vent out bottled-up emotions. Not only this, there is a great demand for sad books and TV shows to induce emotional tears.
8. Boosts Communication
At times, crying works as a communication medium, especially when you cannot express yourself using words. For instance, if you are in pain and cannot express it with words, crying can display your message.
Crying is a great bonding factor in relationships between people as compared to arguments and silence, which can usually cause miscommunication. This is because people are aware that when one starts to cry suddenly, there is probably a reason behind it.
Along with helping in communicating, crying or weeping helps you come to terms with a loss. Losing a close family member or pet, for instance, is one of the worst things anyone goes through. In such cases, a tight hug and crying is what you need.