When I think of my first memories of crying – I recall sibling fights with Grandma intervening to say “Boys don’t cry” or “Take it like a man.” Little did I know back then that shedding tears has its benefits. Do you know, women have six times prolactin – a hormone related to crying than men. No wonder – tears well up in women’s eyes at the most inopportune instances. In the USA, women cry an average of 3.5 times every month whereas men cry an average of 1.9 times each month. Thus, it is an evolutionary process and has nothing to do with gender weaknesses or being mentally tough.
There are mainly three kinds of tears and reasons why humans cry :
- Psychic or Emotional Tears
- Reflexive Tears
- Basal Tears
The lacrimal gland in your eyes has a secretory system – to produce tears and an excretory system to drain the tears. Some tears could also go through the lacrimal punctum to drain through the nose.
Emotional or Psychic tears are mainly produced when you experience emotional states and cry due to anger, happiness or sadness. Emotional tears contain a much higher amount of stress hormones and other toxins than other tears.
Reflexive tears are caused by irritants to the eye – like chopping onions or dust in the eyes. Thus, crying clears your eyes of any chemicals, fumes, smoke or particles as well as protect them.
However, Basal tears are produced at 1 to 2 microlitres a minute naturally containing protein-rich antibacterial liquid. It keeps your eyes lubricated while blinking and prevents the mucous membrane from drying. Also, Basal tears help you see more clearly.
Thus all three types of tears benefit us in some or the other way. This article will cover the various Benefits of Crying and their biological connect with stress hormones.
The next big question often asked by my readers is: “If you shed tears due to stress, then – How do they relieve stress?”
Understanding why you cry and does it benefit you by releasing stress is extremely important especially since men are discouraged from showing their tears. Crying is known to be a stress buster and human beings do this without anyone teaching them even as infants. Since studies prove that crying reduces stress, by suppressing tears you could increase susceptibility to stress-related disorders. As per St. Paul, Minn – eyes of all mammals get moistened and soothed when they secrete tears, however, it is only human beings who shed tears as a response to emotional stress.
Tears shed by your eyes contain a mood-altering mineral – Manganese present 30 times more than in blood. Dr William H. Frey a Biochemist and Director of the Psychiatry Research Laboratories at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center, Author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears did extensive research on the connection between stress and tears. As per his theory based on indirect evidence tears help in relieving stress by releasing potentially harmful stress-induced chemicals from the body. Dr Frey remarked, “People say they feel better after crying, and our data show this is so.”
Tears contain stress hormones known as Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH). The higher the levels of ACTH in your body more you are susceptible to developing Addison’s disease. A disease which causes low blood sugar level, depression and extreme fatigue. Thus crying not only benefits – but also prevents you from acquiring this disease by flushing out ACTH to help you feel much calmer.
Tears secrete a hormone called Prolactin as I mentioned at the beginning of the article. This hormone is present in both genders during interpersonal connections and during sexual gratification. When you cry the same hormone is released resulting in you feeling relaxed and calmer.
It is stressful to hide emotions, especially in public gatherings, at work or to someone close who may worry too much for you. Or, you could be embarrassed to shed tears in front of others because of the fear of being judged as weak or vulnerable. Others may hide their tears because they can’t stop them once they start.
As per research, 41 % of women have cried at their workplace at some point in time of their careers. By allowing your pent up emotions to flow out by crying often releases the tension of being welled up.
“Even if crying embarrasses you, it signals that you’ve reached a level of stress that’s detrimental to your health.”
As per Mr Alex Goetz founder of Health Risk Management Company, General Health Inc. emphasizes – “Emotional tears, shed in moments of intense feeling, carry stress hormones and are a way of getting rid of them.”
Studies have proved and you must have a first-hand experience of how you immediately feel relaxed right after you cry. It is so because tears also release oxytocin and endorphins. Both are known to be happy chemicals to give you a feeling of well being. Thus crying benefits you by making you release both emotional and physical pain.
Taking this further, you must have felt a sigh of relief after you cry your heart out. Suppressing your tears from flowing out increases your stress and results in high blood pressure, heart problems and ulcers. However, when you cry it’s good because you benefit by lowering your blood pressure. As per studies patients who shed tears immediately after a therapy session due to anger observed their blood pressure dropping down.
Read the rest of the article to know how if crying actually benefits your skin, eyes and your soul.
By crying, you courageously heal your depression or tough emotions by using tears. Tears purify stress and negativity and are essential to cleanse our souls. Studies suggest – crying stimulates the secretion of feel-good hormones – endorphins. Thus, making us feel better even if the problem still exists. Not only physical detoxification, but tears also have the capacity to heal our heart and soul. It helps us clear things out of our system thus beneficial to our spiritual wellbeing and growth.
Jerry Bergman wrote and I wholeheartedly agree, “Without tears, life would be drastically different for humans. In the short run enormously uncomfortable, and in the long run eyesight would be blocked out altogether.”
Tears are like ocean have saltwater. They protect your eyes because they lubricate them, remove the irritants, and contain important antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes. Reflex tears clear debris like particles or smoke from your eyes. Moreover, when eyes remain lubricated they tend to be protected from infections.
Crying by itself doesn’t have any adverse effect on your skin. Since you mostly cry due to stress and as per our article where we have explained in detail how stress causes ageing – your skin does get affected. Stress causes premature ageing of looks – especially if you are living with prolonged stress or depression.
Moreover when you cry you tend to wipe your eyes and rub them too. Dr Pilliang Dermotologist says “The more you rub, the more it stretches the skin and breaks down the collagen and elastin, making the skin more wrinkly.” This is so because the skin around your eyes is very delicate and if you handle the skin roughly it will start sagging or wrinkling. Thus avoid crying to have beautiful skin around your eyes.
Crying in public is much more acceptable than it was fifty years back. However, there is a pressure on males and females to follow the gender expectations regarding crying especially for teenagers. You could cry for reasons like happiness, grief, fear or anger. It is the fear of being judged that is the reason for suppressing emotions and not expressing them fully. Once you understand how important it is to cry and it’s various benefits you will no longer hold yourself back all bottled up. You will automatically learn to express yourself freely.
Now off you go and Have a GOOD CRY! Release all those hormones and start feeling lighter and start smiling!
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