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Why It’s Healthy to Cry

Did you know that it’s healthy and necessary for well-being to cry? Although you may say you hate to cry, especially in front of others, that only means you have wrongly developed negative feelings about crying from family and culture.

In “No sob story: the good news about crying” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, page 38E), Mary Carpenter tells us why shedding tears is important. First and foremost, crying relieves stress. Most of you have probably experienced this release of tension. Tension is what causes people to burst into tears unexpectedly because it builds in their bodies until, wham, out comes the flood. Neuroscientist William Frey explains that “Tears can remove chemicals that build up during stress; it can lower blood pressure, and it reduces manganese, a mineral found in the highest concentrations in tears. Because manganese affects mood, there is some thought that shedding manganese helps you feel better.” Not surprisingly, Frey also found that, “more tears are shed between 7 and 10 pm; and the average length of crying bouts is six minutes.”

Think about why tears may have evolved in humans. According to the article, they may have protected us from predators by veiling our eyes so that potential enemies couldn’t see if we were looking at them. Or tears might indicate vulnerability and a willingness to be friends rather than foes. Crying stuck around all these hundreds of thousands of years in humans because it served a survival and, therefore, evolutionary purpose.

Though you may have learned in childhood to fear tears, crying, like laughing or sneezing, is natural and normal. There’s nothing wrong with it per se. You may have been taught that only weak people cry or that it’s a sign that there’s something wrong with you. You may feel vulnerable and uncomfortable shedding tears and, therefore, try not to do it or do it in front of people. That’s unfortunate. The truth is that “Criers are helped more if they are comforted by others” and if you see someone crying, it’s a good idea to reach out to them because “Doing nothing can make the crier feel worse.”

Fortunately, ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been a big crier. It came easily to me and no amount of shaming by my father (because, I assume, my crying made him feel uncomfortable) made a difference. When I wanted to cry, I simply let my tears flow. And, once the tension was reduced, they stopped. How often do you give yourself the gift of tears? Did you ever think that maybe if you cried more, you’d eat less? You won’t know until you give tears a chance.

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