Crying provides both mental and physical benefits, and that is one of the important lessons learned in life.
We have all indulged in this activity at some point. That is because crying is a natural response to physical irritation of the eye or an emotional state. Chances are crying was the first thing you did within the first seconds of your life. That likely continued into your childhood, but for some reason, this behaviour became increasingly unacceptable as you aged. But what if crying is one of the best ways to purge sadness from your soul? What if crying is just what you need right now to feel better?
The Japanese people value these lessons learned in life as they are strong believers in the tremendous health and lifestyle benefits of crying. This is why they attend crying seminars called “rui-katsu” (which means “tear activity”); which is a collective activity that encourages people to cry as a way to relieve stress and to become refreshed. But if crying is so helpful, why do people put in so much effort to avoid it?
Why You Might Be Inclined to Avoid Crying
Crying used to be a normal activity in the early stages of your life but that changed progressively with age. Why is that? Or better yet, how do you feel about crying?
While crying can be a great emotional outlet, your perception of this activity can stop you from enjoying this experience. For instance, if you see crying as a sign of weakness or over-sensitivity, you will likely put in a lot of effort to avoid it and cause a great deal of tension in your body as a result.
This perception exists because there is much social stigma attached to crying. Starting from the time when it made you a source of mockery in elementary school, to when your parents rebuked you by saying, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” All the way to adulthood, when everyone expects you to “be strong”, even after losing a loved one.
This stigma has resulted is the perpetuation of a cycle wherein people are encouraged to avoid expressing their feelings and emotions, while shaming those courageous enough to do so. But there is nothing shameful about crying, and it is not a sign of weakness. Here are some of the benefits of crying:
Why Crying is Actually Good for You
1. Having a good cry is a great way to relieve stress and purge sadness. This is partly because emotional tears contain stress hormones like cortisol which is released when crying. Crying also helps to reduce the level of manganese in the body which is associated with anxiety.
2. Crying releases endorphins (also called feel-good hormones) which help to improve your mood.
3. Crying helps you to acknowledge the feelings and emotions you are experiencing and accept that you are human after all.
4. Crying can help you create deeper emotional bonds with others; because it invites them to see a different side of you, one that cannot be portrayed by simple words.
5. Crying can mitigate the risks of chronic stress and depression by helping your process your feelings and emotions.
6. There are also physical benefits that can be enjoyed when crying, including improving your vision, flushing out bacteria from your eyes and nose, lowering blood pressure, et cetera.
We Need Relief, and A Good Cry Can Help
There is no shortage of tragedies and other sources of emotional pain in life. Letting social stigma push you into avoidance and repression of feelings, can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
The Japanese practice of Rui-katsu can be a fascinating source of important lessons learned in life; one with the potential to challenge and change our perception of crying. So, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and trying hard to hold back tears, do yourself a favour and find a quiet place or a supportive shoulder to cry.