Have you cried recently? When did you cry last time? Yesterday, last month, or you can’t remember?
It’s estimated that in the US, women cry 3.5 times per month while men cry 1.9 times per month. Chinese women merely cry about 1.4 times a month. In Bulgaria, men are even reported to cry 0.3 times a month.
The figures vary, but something shared by societies has emerged itself, which is the intolerance of crying. In many cultures, people are taught in their childhood that tears are a symbol of weakness which they should repress or hide. However, it shouldn’t be the case. Crying is a necessary mechanism of our body to stay healthy. Keeping reading to learn more!
Emotions bottled up compromise your health
When you are under threat and feel nervous, like being chased by a wild animal or speaking in front of the public, your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated, which stimulates "fight-or-flight response."
By comparison, when you don't feel nervous, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) will help your body relax and digest nutrition.
A study from Harvard Medical School reveals that the long-term stress caused by emotions stored down inside can activate SNS, so that your digestion will be influenced, leading to symptoms like gas, vomiting, ulcers, etc.
When you suffer from anxiety, your muscles are also suffering. Bottled up emotions can cause headache and neck pain as the stress may trigger muscles in the jaw to tighten, said psychotherapist Rose Lawrence.
Headaches and migraines may find you, too. People frown under stress as the corrugator muscles in the forehead and brow tighten. But in most cases, a tight corrugator muscle is also an indicator of stress throughout the whole body, said psychologist Daniel Goleman. At this condition, there’ll be reduced blood flow to the brain, leading to a headache or migraine.
Crying helps out by detoxing the body and mind
There are a total of three types of tears:
· Basal or continuous tears that keep the eyes moist and prevent infection
· Reflex tears released to flush out debris, dust, and other irritants
· Emotional tears released in response to emotions.
Among them, emotional tears contain the highest level of stress hormones and other toxins, including concentrations of prolactin, manganese, serotonin, cortisol, and adrenaline. Researchers suggest that crying flushes these things out of your system, which is good for your stress regulation.
Your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated under stress, while crying has been proved to be a facilitating activity that helps you start to relax. Nevertheless, you may shed tears for a few minutes to get self-soothing as the effects are not immediate.
Japan, where holding back tears is like a virtue, also features a low tolerance of crying. But it’s intriguing that in some areas there’re “crying clubs” that allow people to sob together in a cathartic way. People report feeling good after crying routinely as they get more open about feelings and more comfortable being themselves.
As the Japanese saying goes, a child who cries grows up healthy. "We should stay vulnerable to live a fulfilling life," said Hidefumi Yoshida, a "tears teacher" of five years.