Crying is a natural response that humans have to a range of certain emotions, like sadness, joy, grief, and frustration. We all cry, and it’s normal. However, does crying have any health benefits? Let us read below to explore this.
14 Ways In Which Crying Benefits the Health:
It is common to cry irrespective of gender. In the US, women cry an average of 3.5 times per month, while men cry an average of around 1.9 times a month.(1)
Crying Dulls Pain:
Crying for a long time releases oxytocin along with endogenous opioids; also known as endorphins.(2) These are the feel-good chemicals that can help ease both, emotional and physical pain. When endorphins are released, our body might go in to somewhat of a numb stage. Oxytocin can help you provide a sense of calmness and well-being. It is one more example of how crying works as a self-soothing action.
Crying Detoxifies The Body:
There are 3 types of tears, namely, reflex tears, continuous tears, and emotional tears. Reflex tears are known to clear debris, like dust and smoke from the eyes.
Continuous tears are known to lubricate the eyes and also help protect them from any sort of infection. Emotional tears might have several health benefits.
Though continuous tears contain 98% of water, emotional tears have stress hormones and other toxins. Researchers have theorized that when you cry you flush out these things out of your system. However, more research in this area is still required.
It Improves Mood:
One of the health benefits of crying is that it improves your mood. It is said that along with helping you ease pain, crying, particularly sobbing, might even help you lift your spirits.(3) When we sob, we take in several quick breaths of cool air, and inhaling cooler air can actually help you regulate and even lower our brain’s temperature. A cool brain is pretty more pleasurable to your mind and body than a warm brain. So, there is an improvement in our mood after a sobbing episode.
Crying Helps Self-Soothe:
Crying might be one of the best ways to self-soothe. Researchers found that crying helps in activating the PNS or the Parasympathetic nervous system.(4) The parasympathetic nervous system aids our body to rest and digest. The benefits might not be immediate; however, it might take several minutes of shedding tears before you feel the soothing effects.
Crying is Beneficial in Fighting Bacteria:
Crying also helps in killing bacteria and in keeping your eyes pretty clean. This is because tears contain lysozyme in it.
According to a study of 2011, it is found that lysozyme had tremendous antimicrobial properties in it and it could even help in reducing the risks presented by bioterror agents, like anthrax.(5)
It Helps In Improving Vision:
Basal tears, or the tears which are released every time we blink, help in keeping our eyes moist and prevents mucous membranes from drying out.
It is explained by the National Eye Institute that the lubricating effect of basal tears help us to see more clearly.(6) When our membranes dry out, our vision becomes blurry.
Crying Helps You To Recover From Grief:
Grieving is a process that involves periods of sorrow, guilt, numbness, and anger. Crying is especially important during periods of grieving. Crying might even help you process and accept the loss of your loved one.(7)
Each one of us goes through grief in several ways and at different times. In case you find that you are crying in extreme or if crying interferes with your daily normal life, it might be a great idea to consult with your doctor.
Crying is Beneficial in Lowering Blood Pressure:
Multiple studies have found that after a nice cry session, people generally experience both low blood pressure and a steadier pulse, and it is most likely because their stress levels have gone significantly down.(8)
Crying releases Toxin And Relieves Stress:
When we humans cry as a response to stress, our tears contain several numbers of stress hormones and many other chemicals.(9)
Researchers believe that crying might reduce the levels of these chemicals in the body, which in turn could reduce stress. However, more research on this field is essential to confirm this claim.
Crying Rallies Support:
In case you are feeling blue, then crying is one way to let those around you know that you need support. This is called an interpersonal benefit.(10) Since the time you were a baby, crying has known to be an attachment behavior. It functions in several ways to obtain care and comfort from others. In simpler words it can be said that crying helps us to build up our social support network while we are at tough times.
Benefits of Crying in Restoring Emotional balance:
Crying not just happens in response to something sad. At times, one might cry when they are extremely happy, stressed, or scared.
Researchers at Yale University believe that crying in this way might help in restoring emotional equilibrium.(11) When we are incredibly happy or even scared about something and we cry, it might be our body’s way to recover from experiencing such a kind of strong emotion.
Benefits of Crying in Clearing Nasal Passage:
When people cry, they even clog up their nasal passages and thus, have to clear them out; sometimes with an entire box of tissues. It might be messy; however, it is quite beneficial, as blowing your nose clears the nasal passage and rids the passage of foreign substances.
Crying Helps Baby Sleep Well:
Crying might even help babies to sleep well at night. In one small study on infant sleep, 43 participants used graduated extinction, even known as controlled crying, to put their babies down to bed.(12) With this controlled crying, babies were left to cry for an already set number of minutes before any intervention from their parents. Such a crying increased both the duration of sleep and also reduced the number of times the babies woke during the night.
One year later, the crying didn’t appear to increase any stress in the babies or negatively impact the bond between the parent and the child.
It Helps Baby Breathe Well:
Crying also helps the baby to breathe well. A baby’s very first cry out of the mother’s womb is really important. Infants receive their oxygen inside the mother’s womb via the umbilical cord. Once an infant is delivered, they might start breathing all on their own. The first cry of the baby is what helps the lungs of a baby to adapt to life in the outside world. Crying even helps infants clear out any extra fluid in the lungs, mouth, and nose.
Crying is usually a human response to a whole range of emotions that has got a lot of health benefits; including self-soothing effects and pain relief effects.
However, you need to know that in case crying happens too often, or in an uncontrolled manner without any reason, it could be a sign of depression. In such a case, you need to speak to a doctor.