Cry a Little...


| 14 Comments

 

crying_baby.jpgHave you ever felt ashamed of yourself for crying over something because you thought crying was a sign of weakness? Well, no worries. It just so happens that shedding a few tears is actually pretty healthy.

Dr. Frey II, a biochemist at the St. Paul-Ramsey medical center analyzed two distinct kinds of tears. He analyzed emotional tears and tears that arise from irritants. The difference between the two is that emotional tears happen as a result of being upset or stressed. Tears that are a result of irritants happen when people come into close contact with certain things such as onions.

 "...emotional tears contained more of the protein-based hormones, prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and leucine enkephalin (natural painkiller), all of which are produced by our body when under stress. It seems as if the body is getting rid of these chemicals through tears."

Dr. Frey II concluded that this is essentially why we feel better after we cry. I am a very emotional person and I'll admit that I cry all the time. After crying I genuinely feel lighter and as if a weight has lifted off of my shoulders. Even if my problem has not been solved, letting out the built-in stress makes me feel well.

In addition to provided emotional relief, tears are important because they lubricate your eyes and rid them from certain bacteria.

 

14 Comments

So that's why we often feel better after we cry. Someone shouldn't feel ashamed for crying, especially if it's much needed. It's basically like talking to someone and opening up a bottle of unwanted stress and tension. My one question concerns tears of joy. If you overwhelmed in tears of happiness, what kind of tension are you releasing?

I think you would be releasing the tension and or stress from being overly happy. Would being happy be a form of stress in a way too because you have to try to cope with the anxiety of it? http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/happiness/what-happiness

great topic. However i have always been curious as to why we feel that lump in our throats as we cry. I found the answer. Apparently, when someone cries, the body attempts to stop high stress activities and replaces them with recuperative functions. One of which is digestion. In order to do this, the body causes us to swallow, which causes us to close the glottis in the throat to prevent food from entering. However when crying, the glottis remains open, and the fight we put up to close the glottis leads to the lump sensation we feel in our throats.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crying#Biological_response

Wow this is interesting because our bodies are actually “letting it out.” I never thought that tears had any chemicals in it I thought that it was just like water. I also didn’t know that there was a variation in tear type.

I am curious why letting out chemicals feel better though. Does this mean that it is bad for us to hold these chemicals in? This may be the reason why there is a general idea that when people are emotional “they shouldn’t hold in their emotions.” Our lousy intuition hurts us if this is the case. The reason why is because we trust society which tell us that we shouldn’t cry because (as you stated) it makes you show a sign of weakness.

Good to know that crying is not a sign of weakness! I had one really stressful week here and I had a little meltdown and cried and I definitely felt better afterwards even though I still had a ton of work left to do.
Also, did you know that there is significance to which eye your tear comes out first? Apparently, if you first tear from your left eye it means sadness and if it first falls from your right eye it means happiness. Some say that's just a rumor but I'd like to think it's true. It seems interesting!

Jessica, I actually have heard that before! I always wondered.

But yes, I think this is a great topic, and one that is very under-explored (if that's a word).

The body's process are there to perform a specific function and it's amazing how that works.

I just wonder, are there any repercussions to suppressing tears? What happens if those chemicals are not released?

I agree with you that crying makes me feel better when I am stressed or upset, but I found a very interesting study that suggests letting babies cry for short periods of time while teaching them to sleep by themselves doesn't cause long-term psychological problems or damage the parent-child relationship, according to a study being published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. When we looked into this in class, we found that it was considered a bad thing to let your baby cry it out on their own without comforting them, so I found it strange that this study suggests it is okay? What do you think? http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/09/10/letting-babies-cry-out-at-nighttime-is-ok/

You’re definitely right. One should never feel ashamed for crying. Crying is human nature and as mentioned above is good for you. In regards to your question, I think tears of joy relate to stress and tension as well. The majority of the time, when you shed tears of joy, you are happy something has happened. This something could be an issue or event that you were worrying over. For example, someone may shed tears of joy after being awarded a ten-thousand dollar scholarship. Chances are they were very stressed out about how they were going to pay for school. Do you think this explanation is reasonable?

I think pretending to be happy although you are stressed out, only masks the reality of the situation you are facing. Even though you pretend to be happy, at the end of the day, the issue has not been resolved and you will still be stressed out over it.

Trying to be happy, by engaging in enjoyable activities, such as hanging out with friends, shopping or going to the movies, sounds like more of a stress reliever to me. You aren't masking your feelings, but simply trying to do things that are fun to make yourself happy.

Crying can relieve those stresses as well.

Regarding your article, it states:

Since happiness is so subjective, can it really be measured and studied scientifically? ….After all isn’t it our own perception of happiness what mattes?”

I think this can relate back to us feeling as though crying means that we are weak. We have already developed our own subjective interpretation of what it means to be weak: crying all the time. This makes us reluctant to do it. I also believe this makes us resort to pretending to be happy, as you stated.

So, I believe the answer to your question is YES. Along with crying, being happy is a stress reliever but you have to be genuinely happy, not pretending.

Like you, I was unaware that our tears had chemicals in them. I just noticed that I always feel better after I cry, so I set out to find out why. I did however notice the variations in tears. When my eyes tear from smelling onions or peppers I don’t feel as though any stress has been released after I wipe my tears and move away from the scent.

I agree with the idea that it is bad to fight our tears. I think this does mean that stress will be built up unless we choose to release the stress in other ways. Sometimes we release our stress by engaging in risky behaviors or acting violent. This idea goes hand in hand with the perception society gives us. (That crying is a sign of weakness).

Don’t worry, I had my share of breakdowns while being here and you are absolutely right. I did all the crying I had to and afterwards I got right back to finishing up my work.

I actually didn’t know that there was a significance between which eye your tear falls from first. This actually reminds of a superstition that my mother believes. When I was younger she would tell me that if your right eye twitches it’s going to rain and if your left eye twitches someone you know is going to get hurt or pass away. Have you heard of this? If not this is something we should both look into in the future. Of course however, superstitions may vary according to beliefs and culture.

I agree with your idea that this topic is “underexplored.” In a sense I think it’s something that we as people overlook because we don’t feel as though crying has much significance because people cry so often. Finding this out made me want to know other functions our body performs that we may not necessarily be aware of.

To relate back to what I concluded, I think suppressing tears does have repercussions. By not releasing our tears, we won’t release those chemicals, which will keep stress built in. Unless of course we decide to deal with our problems in other ways.

I honestly think that is a choice left entirely up to a child’s parent. Personally, I think it’s okay to let your child cry without comforting them because it lets them know that they will be okay. For example, I have a two-year old niece. When she falls, instead of comforting her and making a big scene about her falling, I pick her up as quickly as possible and tell her that she is okay. When you make a big scene around a child, I feel as though the child senses that they are in danger, which makes him/her cry even more.

Your article notes that teaching a child how to sleep on his/her own is critical to their development. I agree. This is not to say that a parent should leave their baby alone while it cries through the night, but as the child gets older, the parent should begin to teach them how to sleep on their own because they will have to sleep in their own bed for the majority of their life. But once again, this is up to the parent.

In terms of my post, I think a child crying relieves the child’s stress as well. Many babies/toddlers can’t fully communicate. When a child can’t have what he/she wants, they become upset and stressed, so I think crying is a way to signal to their parents what they want, and relieve their stress as well.

I actually didn’t think about the lump we get in our throat until you mentioned it. One thing I realized is the lump is only there BEFORE I cry and when I am holding in my tears. The lump is not present when I am crying, or after I have finished crying.

I think this goes hand in hand with the fact that we fight to close the glottis. The way we fight to close the glottis is similar to the way we fight to hold back tears.

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