Parades, graduations, weddings — while happy occasions can often illicit tears of joy…. ugh! Here’s why you should just let them flow!
The ”why” of crying may seem obvious and straightforward: You’re happy or sad. But that’s too simplistic.
”Crying is a natural emotional response to certain feelings, usually sadness and hurt. But then people [also] cry under other circumstances and occasions,” says Stephen Sideroff, PhD, a staff psychologist at Santa Monica–University of California Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital.
For instance, he says, ”people cry in response to something of beauty. There, I use the word ‘melting.’ They are letting go of their guard, their defenses, tapping into a place deep inside themselves.”
Crying does serve an emotional purpose, says Sideroff, also an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. “It’s a release. There is a buildup of energy with feelings.”
What’s in a tear?
We loved this breakdown on the anatomy of a tear from psychiatrist Judith Orloff’s blog on Huffington Post.
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 percent 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 suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones.”
Tears: Why They Heal
We chose 4 of 7 Good Reasons to Cry: The Healing Property of Tears By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor of PyschCentral.com, which was inspired by New York Times reporter Benedict Carey’s article “The Miracle of Tears”
1. Tears kill bacteria
Tears contain lysozyme, a fluid that the germ-a-phobic dreams about in her sleep, because it can kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria in just five to 10 minutes!
2. Tears remove toxins
Biochemist William Frey, found that emotional tears–those formed in distress or grief–contained more toxic byproducts than tears of irritation (think onion peeling). Are tears toxic then? No! They actually remove toxins from our body that build up courtesy of stress.
3. Crying can elevate mood
Tears can lower a person’s manganese level and overexposure to manganese can cause nervousness, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, aggression, and emotional disturbance. The act of crying can lower a person’s manganese level.
4. Crying lowers stress
Tears really are like perspiration in that exercising and crying both relieve stress. In his article, Bergman explains that tears remove some of the chemicals built up in the body from stress, like the endorphin leucine-enkaphalin and prolactin.