Most people avoid crying at all costs. Crying can make us feel weak, vulnerable, embarrassed or exposed. Having a good cry means that we have to face our feelings and confront difficult emotions- not a pleasurable task. Most of us have been conditioned to have a thick skin – to put on a brave face and soldier on. So, why then, would we see any benefit in crying?
I, on the other hand, am a cryer. I love to cry. I’m the one that cries through TV commercials, the soppy movie trailers; I even cry through The Voice. It’s great entertainment for my kids who continuously make fun of me. What can I say? I’m a highly sensitive person who is in tune with my feelings as well as the feelings of others. It is my greatest strength in that it gives me the empathy needed to do my work. However, before I knew how to manage my sensitivity (my emotions), it was also a demise. I have learned to honour crying and use it as a powerful tool to manage my stress and heal.
Crying is actually one of the best mechanisms gifted to the human body. It helps us release pain, anger, frustration, fear and also joy. We were born crying and born to cry. For a newborn baby, crying is its only way of communication. Clients often apologise for crying in our coaching sessions. And when they do, I guide them to embrace their tears and release them instead of compressing them. I always say that if they were going to Personal Trainer they would expect the PT to make them sweat. My role is to help my clients release blocked emotions, and crying is the best way to let go. So, I guide them to embrace their tears- to feel so they can heal.
There are many scientific studies that reveal the benefits of crying:
Dr William Frey, a “tear expert”, has found that normal Basal tears (tears which lubricate and protect the eyes) are made up of salt water. While Emotional tears include stress hormones such as oxytocin that help manage stress. When we cry we also produce endorphins- our feel-good hormones.
A 2014 study showed that crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system which in turn activates our relaxation response (opposite to our fight/flight mode). This helps us feel more calm and clear while triggered.
A 2015 study showed that crying is an attachment behaviour, it literally is a ‘cry out for help’ that signals to people close to us that we are in need.
A 2015 study showed that having a good cry can also help improve sleep quality.
So, as you can see there are numerous benefits to crying. Here are a few ways you can embrace your tears and have a good cry:
- The Shower Cry. This is one of my all-time favourite stress management tools. This involves getting into the shower, sitting on the floor if you must and letting it all out.
- The Pillow Cry. Cry into a pillow. Adding a good scream is another great way to release anger or pent-up emotion.
- The “Laundry” Cry. For me my laundry is my hiding place, hence the name. Where is a private space in your house where you can sit by yourself and cry?
- The Bestie Cry. There is nothing like a shoulder to cry on. Especially when it belongs to a great friend, who does not judge but simply holds a space for you to release.
- The Car Cry. Get into your car, put on some music, go somewhere private and cry.
- The Water Cry. Get into a pool, ocean or flotation tank and cry under water. Let the water hold you and literally wash away your tears.
- The Fire Cry. A fireplace can be very soothing to cry in front of. You can also write out all the things you are letting go of, tear up your paper into tiny shreds and throw them into the fire.
- The Movie Cry. If you feel quite blocked and find it hard to cry get hold of The Notebook or any other known tear jerker to help unblock trapped emotions.
Most importantly this is about allowing yourself to be vulnerable and authentic with your emotions. Utilise the gift of crying to help yourself let go and heal.