Water your eyes
Irene, passionate about mental health, talks about the processes behind crying and why it can be beneficial in certain scenarios.
When we were young, crying was a form of communication - from hunger to injury to sadness, crying conveyed a emotions and situations to our caregivers. As we grew older, shedding tears became more of a taboo, despite being so familiar & comforting to us during our youth. Society has taught us that crying is the consequence of our own helplessness and personal shortcomings; however, not only is the mindset wrong, but it’s incredibly damaging to our own health and to the people around us as we often hide our emotions until they physically manifest into negative behaviors.
“The stigma around crying should be cleared"
The stigma around crying should be cleared, and it should be interpreted as an innate human response that provides relief to biological stressors and supports mental health.
In academics, the evidence indicates there are biochemical mechanisms that benefit individuals who release tears. The most important being triggering the distribution of oxytocin, the hormone that promotes a sense of calm & tranquility, and endorphins, the chemicals that affect the body’s perception of both emotional & physical pain. In combination, the two lead to a sense of relief and well being after someone is done crying.
Additionally, the act of releasing tears has physiological advantages to the eye itself. Tears help lubricate the intricate membranes & structures of the eye; they carry away debris & pathogens as tears free themselves from the eye with a special fluid called lysozyme, which has antimicrobial properties. Recent journal articles also detail the possibility of tears being the vehicle for excess stress hormones to exit the body, but more research is needed. Nevertheless, the scientific community & a major body of evidence has witnessed positive returns on crying.
As for mental health, crying is becoming more normalized as culture has shifted to accept vulnerability and advocate empathy. While excessive crying accompanied with harmful thoughts is not healthy and can be indicative of a medical issue, the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system during crying has been seen as a method of self soothing for the body to reduce distress & regulate emotions.
Alternatively, crying is an attachment behavior that may improve interpersonal relationships by fostering trust & conversations about changes towards our own life. With vast communities & creators openly speaking about their struggles and endorsing spaces that allow platform users to share their stories, people struggling with mental health issues or simply going through a rough patch in their lives have more freedom to express themselves.
Though we have a long way to go in understanding why we cry and the processes behind it, it's a natural & helpful tool that we should embrace to regulate our emotions and wellbeing.
*This article is purely the opinion of the writer. By no means does it intend to influence your mental health decisions.