Whether your boss has reamed you out in front of your colleagues or you’ve had a nasty mud-slinging match with your best friend, when you find yourself on the brink of tears, all you want to do is bawl like a baby! But should you fight your tears or give in and have a “good cry”?
As a child, everyone told you that “big children” don’t cry, but scientists have now proved that crying (even in adults) plays a vital role in alleviating emotional distress and sadness. But why does crying wash away your pain?
Why Does Crying Make You Feel Better?
Crying is cathatic- It allows you to express deep emotions and once you stop crying you feel purged and “cleansed” of your negative mood. There are several physiological mechanisms that can account for this effect of crying on emotion and mood.
Crying Releases “Happy Hormones”
“Crying is associated with the release of endorphins and brain chemicals that block pain signals and produce a feeling of contentment”
Crying is a reaction to pain, and the body controls pain by releasing endorphins that are often referred to as “happy hormones.” Natural brain chemicals, such as oxytocin and endogenous opioids, block the transmission of pain signals and produce a feeling of contentment. It may take a while for these chemicals to produce effects and so you are likely to notice an upswing in your mood after crying.
Crying Stimulates The Parasympathetic Nervous System
Studies show that crying stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is a part of the nervous system that controls various functions, including heart rate and gland activity. The stimulation of PNS induces a state of relaxation, while reducing any negative emotions. When you cry, your PNS is stimulated and this in turn triggers a state of relaxation and peacefulness, which is why you might also feel sleepy after a good cry.
Crying Is A Stress Buster
Emotional upheaval and intense emotional upheaval and intense emotions cause a build-up of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. As the level of cortisol increase, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, which is an automatic stress response to any threatening situation. Studies show that crying reduces the level of cortisol in the body, helping relieve mental and emotional tension and eliminating stress almost instantly.
So, next time you feel depressed after a long day at work, don’t hold back- just cry into your pillow and wake up to a sunny day!