Did you know that humans are the only animals who shed tears?
And what’s more, did you know that crying is actually good for your health? We are not talking about basal or reflex tears here - the ones that help keep our eyes moist or the ones triggered by irritants like smoke or onions respectively. Of course, basal and reflex tears are also healthy as they keep our eyes lubricated, help improve vision and even fight bacteria. But today we are talking about emotional tears. These tears actually contain a higher level of stress hormones than basal or reflex tears and so we are expelling stress from our bodies as we cry emotional tears. Crying has a self-soothing effect by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and thereby helping us to relax and regulate our emotions. Shedding emotional tears also releases oxytocin and endorphins which can ease both physical and emotional pain and actually make us “feel better” immediately. Crying also fulfills a warning function - like a wake up call for our own consciousness - allowing us to see things more clearly. A true cathartic emotional cry fully activates the function of neurotrophins (a protein family that induce survival, development of neurons). So crying quite literally repairs us and encourages learning, growth and adaptation to our surroundings. An added social benefit of crying is that it can rally support from those around us. So next time you feel the tears coming on, remember “expressed emotions are overcome emotions” and let them flow freely.