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Some people need a good cry now and then. But, guess what? Science says so, too! The scientific benefits of crying show it may improve your health and wellbing.
When you cry because of low self-esteem or any other array of emotions, it can have huge benefits for you physically, mentally and, of course, emotionally.
Learn the science behind these benefits of crying…
1. Crying Flushes Out Toxins And Bacteria
“…you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning
The author of the A Series of Unfortunate Events young adult book series might not be the most literary writer that will be mentioned in this article, but his quote is among the most insightful. We feel better after crying, even if the only thing we’re left with is drier eyes.
Why is that? Because of the most obviously scientific benefit of crying: the act itself gets garbage, like toxins and bacteria, out of your body.
The biochemist and worldwide expert on tears Dr. William Frey discovered that tears formed based on emotions include more toxins, which means that when those tears leave your body you are cleansing yourself of those toxins. Tears fight against bacteria that we might get from communal items or areas as well, so if you cry you’re also less likely to have to waste a sick day at work!
As weird as it may sound, crying may do wonders for your overall health.
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2. Crying Relieves You
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Dickens knew a lot about the benefits of crying even without access to the scientific evidence that we have now. The main reason we are “better after we have cried” is that tears help us manage something called our manganese levels.
An overexposure to manganese often results in terrible feelings such as nervousness, irritability, anxiety, aggression and more kinds of distress. Tears that come from emotion actually lower our levels because they contain a higher albumin protein concentration, which helps transports small molecules through our bodies.
You might not totally understand the biology behind it, but the point is that when you cry you tend to feel better.
We also tend to feel less stressed out after a cry. Scientists like to say that tears leaving your body when you cry is similar to perspiration leaving you when you exercise. The chemicals that make up stress are directly leaving your body.
Relieving stress is high on a lot of people’s priority lists, key to accomplishing the things we need to get done, and doing that can sometimes be as simple as shedding a few tears!
3. It Opens Up Your Vulnerable Side
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
– Robert Frost
In this quote famed poet Robert Frost (author of The Road Not Taken) is mainly referring to the art of storytelling, but his message also aptly identifies how crying can make you connect more with certain individuals.
That doesn’t mean you should cry on the subway every day after work, but if the circumstances are right it shouldn’t hurt to shed some tears in front of a friend. More often than not, that person will appreciate that you opened up to them in such an honest way.
One of the most difficult aspects of building a friendship is peeling off the layers of someone to reach their core. Crying is often (and mistakenly) seen as a sign of weakness, but making yourself vulnerable demonstrates a real strength of character.
As we’ve mentioned before about happiness, it’s important to get past your pride. Remember that if other people are crying in front of you or if you feel embarrassed because you’re weeping in front of someone else. Don’t regret it, just let the tears flow.
4. Tears Help The Grieving Process
“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
― Brian Jacques, Taggerung
As important as it is to get motivated when you feel depressed, the death of a loved one or a major loss of any kind often requires something sometimes referred to as a “wallowing period.”
Everyone needs time to process their feelings, maybe with the help of things like a big tub of ice cream and a favorite movie. Usually, grieving a loss also involves a good, long cry.
For each of the five stages of grief initially proposed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the 1969 book On Death and Dying (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), crying is arguably a key component. Each step may involve tears during the road to recovery.
5. It’s Is A Crucial Step To Start Moving Forward
“Those who do not weep, do not see.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
This quote is true symbolically and literally.
On a scientific level, tears are what makes it possible for us to see. That’s literally what they’re there for. Tears both lubricate our eyeballs and our eyelids and help us prevent the dehydration of our mucous membranes.
In the fascinating article “The Miracle of Tears,” author Dr. Jerry Bergman explains that without tears, seeing would be very uncomfortable in the short term and impossible in the long term.
Tears also help us “see” into our futures, opening up ourselves to a life beyond what we’re crying about.
By letting go of pain we’ve felt because of things in our past, we can move on to feeling joy about the present and the future. It’s important to release your emotions instead of bottling them up inside. That enables you to move forward and keep seeking out the success you’ve always wanted.
Crying is most often seen as something bad, but by releasing your emotions you’re opening yourself up to something good in the future. Don’t forget these benefits of crying when you feel waterworks coming down the pipe.