Listening to some music the other day I found my self getting a bit emotional. My response was to minimize the way the songs affected me and not let their effects to show. But not being a total hard case, started talking with the other guys in the office about it. Then I got curious, why do we cry? Here is what I found out…
First of all you are probably already aware that the tears are a lubricant for our eyes and help to protect them and keep them clean. Washing dirt and other irritants away the tears also have anti-bacterial properties that kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria within 5 to 10 min. So the tears are there to keep us healthy. Tears help the tissues around the eye to be moist, if they would dry out, we would not be able to see.
But there is another type of tears that are different then the ones that appear because of an irritant. The emotional tears also have a role to play. Interestingly they have a different chemical make up and have different results.
- Crying helps to reduce stress – Crying helps to remove some hormones and chemicals in the body that are a produce of stress, holding back tears can increase the stress levels in your body.
- Crying helps you feel better – Emotional crying helps to release endorphins that work to stabilize your mood and help us feel content. Holding back tears in an emotional situation will only prolong the suffering and make you feel worse.
- Crying is also an effective form of communication, think about it, you may be oblivious to how some one is feeling until they start crying and then it becomes pretty clear. The act of emotional crying also help the people around them in instilling a sense of community and deepens the interest in one’s welfare
As a guy, I have wondered about my own ability to cry. The few times I feel like crying it is rare that I actually seem to do so more then tiny bit. I would then feel a bit guilty about it. However I found out that structurally men’s tear ducts are actually smaller than women’s, and that tears naturally drain from the eyes through a passage near the border of the lower eyelid. Tears streaming down the cheeks happen with an excess production of tears that the drainage system can not handle.
So there are many benefits to a good cry both in mental and physical health. So go ahead, cry it out. It will all be better soon.
… In part because of the conversation I had with the guys in my office I have put together a collaborative play list on Spotify of Songs that make you cry. Feel free to contribute songs to the list but I do ask you to keep them clean and not to add songs with explicit lyrics. They can be sad or happy songs, but add them if they made you cry at some point.
And for more details, here are the sources of my research:
- answersingenesis.org – The Miracle of tears
- The Daily Journal – Gender differences and the health benefits of crying
…and some other pages that all said pretty much the same thing.