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The Truth About Crying

Updated on February 24, 2013
Crying helps us cope with distressing situations.
Crying helps us cope with distressing situations. | Source

By Joan Whetzel

Crying - like breathing, sneezing or sweating – is a natural function of the body. Most of us have been programmed by society not to cry, because crying is seen as a sign of weakness. Yet, the shedding of tears is a surefire stress reliever, a natural way to make us feel better about our lives and to clear our minds and see things more clearly; not mention a way of dealing with grief. But what is crying all about? And how does it really help us cope?

What Is Crying?

Crying, sobbing, or weeping is the act of shedding tears in response to human emotions. As little as one tear is considered crying.

Science of Crying

A University of Minnesota study determined that certain chemicals build up in our bodies during emotional periods and that those chemicals are released through the tears. If left inside the body, the higher levels of these chemicals increases the risk of having a heart attack and stroke. Crying removes these chemicals from the body, which lowers these risks, as well as being mentally and emotionally therapeutic.

In addition, the continual bathing of the eyes with tears (basal tears) feeds them with the necessary water, lipids (fats), proteins and other compounds that keep eye tissues healthy and able to fight off infection. Reflex tears, which are produced in response to foreign objects and other irritants entering the eye, have a similar chemical make-up used to cleanse and protect the eye tissues. Emotional tears are chemically different in that they contain a natural pain killer, an endorphin, potassium and manganese.

A Few Crying Facts

· Women cry approximately 30 to 64 times per year.

· Men cry somewhere between 6 and 17 times in a year.

· In 65 % of all crying episodes, the crying advances to the level of sobbing for women.

· Men only get to the point of sobbing about 6% of the time.

· Crying makes 85% of women and 73% of men feel less sad or angry.

· Crying episodes generally last only 6 minutes.

· Crying for most people occurs most often between 7 pm and 10 pm.

When Is Crying Acceptable?

Most people will agree that it’s okay to cry tears of joy at graduations, weddings and birth of a baby. Laughing so hard you cry is also allowed. Crying at funerals is not only allowed, it’s expected. It is not socially acceptable to cry when one is angry, stressed, or simply down in the dumps. Women have more flexibility than men when it comes to crying.

The Art of Crying

Crying is great for relieving stress, makes it easier for people to let go of things, and relieves emotional pain, especially when they allow themselves to get worked up into a full-fledged sob. Crying lowers the blood pressure and removes toxins from the body as well. The trick here is

  1. to find a place where you can cry without being interrupted; and
  2. to find some music, a sad movie, or a sad story that helps bring the tears to the surface, or to think of something really sad, if that’s what it takes to get it started.

Once the crying starts, it’s easier to keep the tears flowing until the garbage is completely out of your system. Afterwards, you may have puffy eyes and a runny nose to contend with for awhile. A little nose blowing and the runny nose will cure itself in short order. Treating the eyes with a cold, wet washcloth, some cold cucumber slices, or an icepack soon after the cry should keep them from swelling up, or at least reduce any swelling that does occur because of the crying.

Resources

Tranquility Is Yours. A Good Cry.

http://www.tranquilityisyours.com/cry.html

Wikipedia. Crying.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crying

The Lifestyle Lounge. Why Does Crying Feel Good?

http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/why-does-crying-feel-good-2372.html

Sollitto, Marlo. Aging Care. Go Ahead, Have a Good Cry - 5 Reasons Why It's Good for You.

http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/reasons-why-crying-is-good-for-your-health-146022.htm

Comments

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    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 

      5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Someone told me once...crying washes the pain! I found it beautiful!

      I didn't know that crying removes the chemicals that could provoke a stroke or a heart attack! Very interesting!

      Thank you for sharing all that useful information!

      Voted up, useful and interesting!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 

      5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      I'm glad to read this excellent article. Trying to be an 'anchor' and 'tough' just always seemed really hard for me. Now I know that it's okay to cry, and even healthier! I usually want to cry first thing in the morning, but I have tried to rationalize it before. Now I'll just give in and let the tears flow as they may! Voted Up, Useful and Interesting.

      Pearl

    • profile image

      Joanne M Olivieri 

      5 years ago

      Very interesting information and facts. I know I always feel better after a good cry . Very well written and useful. Voted Up

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Crying can be a great release at times. Some days I'll sit and have a good cry and feel so much better afterwards.

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