Do you remember the last time you felt so moved, touched or happy that you burst into tears? Did you feel good afterwards? Crying is a relief; a load off; a way to heal from pain. Here are some interesting facts about why we actually enjoy crying and why it gives us a pleasant state of mind and ease.
When emotional tears happen, well-meaning friends and family members often try to make the crying person stop crying. Our culture in general represses emotional crying. We learn from very early childhood to compose ourselves and not to express our emotions with tears. Crying – especially in public or at work – is considered a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of. But sometimes it is okay to cry – emotional crying actually has proven benefits (*):
– Emotional tears contain stress hormones and other toxins. Researchers have theorized that crying flushes these things out of your system.
– Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS helps your body to rest and digest. (Although it may take several minutes before you feel the soothing effects of crying).
– Crying for long periods of time releases oxytocin and endogenous opioids, also known as endorphins. These feel-good chemicals can help ease both physical and emotional pain. Once endorphins are released your body may go into a calm state of well-being.
Maybe because deep in our memories we are familiar with the relief and feel-good effect of a big cry, we are unconsciously (or consciously) looking forward to the experience of crying. This is why emotional TV shows and movies are so popular. They provide that golden opportunity to enjoy crying.
Emotional crying doesn’t always happen from “joy”. It can be a sudden (or not so sudden) response to something sad. You may cry when you are stressed, scared, feel sorrow, or grief. “Crying it out” can help to heal your pain and restore your emotional balance.
Crying from happiness, sadness, or pain is normal. If you have a private, safe place where you can let your tears flow without being watched or criticized, it really can be curative for your body and soul. However, when crying is excessive, it is good to pay attention as that may be a sign of depression.
(*) list is based on a Healthline article