The “hard” times are those in which we are overcome by sadness, grief, anger, disappointment, etc. The human emotions likely to bring us to tears.
Yet these depressing droplets may serve a positive purpose– 5 of which are outlined below.
1. Crying Lowers Stress
It is well known that exercise relieves stress… in addition to the endorphin release that boosts mood, our perspiration carries toxins out that specifically build up during times of stress. Author Jeffry Bergman explains the same phenomenon happens when our eyeballs “sweat”. In fact, suppressing tears can actually add to our stress levels, increasing risk of stress-related health issues such as high blood pressure, peptic ulcers and heart problems.
2. Crying Elevates Mood
Long-time tear researcher William Frey found that crying in response to emotional distress released many more stress-causing toxins than tears caused by environmental irritants (onions, wind, dust). Another ingredient in the “emotional tears” was a high concentration of Manganese, a mineral that can cause anxiety, irritability and fatigue. Therefore when we cry, we release Manganese and ultimately lift our mood.
3. Tears Help Communication and Foster Community
In a Science Digest article, Ashley Montegu demonstrates the community-building power of tears by explaining our human nature to console another who is crying, even if they are a perfect stranger.
My recent experience with the phenomenon of tears as communication took place at my uncle’s memorial service. Friends and family gathered at the burial service, and the air of mourning seemed to render an all-encompassing aura of community. Though no words were spoken, we were all united in the same frame of mind. All it took for me was one glance at my shaking, widowed aunt. Her pain became my own, as did her tears.
4. Cope with Deep Emotions
Crying is thought to be a healthy way to let out and express overwhelming emotion. According to Freud, letting our emotions out is a good thing, while suppressing them can be physically and psychologically detrimental.
5. Tears Cleanse and Hydrate the Eyes
By lubricating the eyeball and eyelid, tears actually help us see. Various mucus membranes maintain hydration by way of tears, and when released, tears kill bacteria and flush free radicals that may be trapped in the eye.
So next time an emotional storm makes your eyeballs rain, if someone says you’re weak you can just say “not according to Freud!” ooooorrrr you could always go with, “I’m not crying, I’m cleansing my eyeballs”.