It was way back in 2008, just two days before Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, that his beloved grandmother died. She had been the one who had raised him from the young age of 10 after his mother passed away. So, in a lot of ways, she was his mother, and having cheered him all his life, it was particularly heartbreaking to come to terms with the reality that she would never see him as President.
It was no surprise then that Obama paid tributes to her in the final days of his presidential campaign. With tears rolling down his eyes and his voice heavy with emotions, he admitted that the occurrence was “hard to talk about” … much tears followed after.
Many people – especially men – fear that crying is a sign of weakness. They think it to be embarrassing, and undesirable, so they usually try withholding their tears and never let go. And this may be true about you too. You may worry that
Whatever your reasons are, you must realize that crying is not just an emotional response to a difficult situation, but also a way the body and mind heals. Hence, holding back tears can be unhealthy for you.
The thing is, not all tears are created equal. There are actually three types of tears
Contrary to what you might think, crying isn’t as repellent as you might fear; in fact, it can strengthen bonds – i.e. make you more likable. The truth is that empathic people would offer to comfort and help out in any way they can if they see you crying. Plus, your tears can actually be the reason they understand the gravity of what you have suffered.
Crying essentially helps you express your feelings, and this process of expression helps expel the stress and tension from your body.
Emotional tears have also been reported to contain traces of stress hormones – like Prolactin; which means crying elevates stress at a biochemical level. This is particularly interesting because high levels of stress can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, weakening of the immune system, hypertension, and may damage certain areas of the brain if left unrelieved. That’s beside the other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression it can trigger.
But that’s not all, crying also excites the Parasympathetic nervous system, which then brings about calm, relaxation, and sleep.
From the psychological standpoint, crying helps you focus on your pain – to take it all in, and feel it – which can sometimes unlock other buried traumas and pains, leading to proper mourning of the events (both past and present). The result is that you feel lighter and better after a good cry.
Crying is so effective that it has even inspired several “Rui-katsu” (i.e. Crying Clubs) in Japan. A Rui-katsu is basically a place where people congregate to watch “sad movies” which then makes them cry. The patrons of such clubs believe that it provides a sort of “safe space” to cry without having to worry about being judged.
Below is a simple guide to help you cry better, and heal whilst on it.
In summary, crying is a cathartic process – it purifies and cleanses your body and mind. However, it is important to note that excessive and uncontrollable outbursts of tears may be subtle indications of serious emotional problems, like depression. In such situations, you are advised to go to (or take the person to) a therapist.