Your brain signals your adrenal glands to release stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These chemicals boost your heart rate and blood pressure, which can translate into chest tightness and heavy breathing as you force yourself not to cry.
“Suppressing an emotion (in this case, frustration or sadness) actually heightens it and makes you feel worse,” says psychologist Nikki Martinez, Psy.D. “So while you might think you’re distracting yourself, the stress is actually growing.” The occasional tear detour is one thing (tearing up mid-meeting probably wouldn’t go over well with the boss), but doing so on the regular gives your body’s stress response more opportunities to cause trouble, she adds. In the short-term, it can cause pesky problems like irritability, anxiety, and poor sleep, and over time high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes.”
How Is Crying Good for You?
It Relieves Stress
Chronic stress can increase the risk of heart attack, damage certain areas of the brain, contribute to digestive issues like ulcers, and cause tension headaches and migraines, among other health issues. “Humans’ ability to cry has survival value,” (Neuroscientist Dr. William H. Frey II, author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears ) Frey emphasizes. When it comes to stress reduction techniques for family caregivers, crying may not be as effective as something like respite care, but in dire circumstances a good cry can provide a temporary release.
Embrace Your Emotions and Humanity
While the eyes of all mammals are moistened and soothed by tears, only human beings shed tears in response to emotional stress. Crying helps us acknowledge the feelings we’re experiencing, and emotions motivate us to empathize, coordinate and work together to survive. In fact, crying serves an important social function. It communicates the strength and nature of relationships, elicits sympathy and even assistance, and draws individuals closer to one another.
Crying Lowers Blood Pressure
Crying has been found to lower blood pressure and pulse rate immediately following therapy sessions during which patients cried and vented. High blood pressure can damage the heart and blood vessels and contribute to stroke, heart failure and even dementia.
Tears Remove Toxins
In addition, crying actually removes toxins from the body. Tears help humans eliminate stress hormones like cortisol that build up during times of emotional turmoil and can wreak havoc on the body. Crying is both a physical and emotional release that helps humans start over with a blank slate.
It Reduces Manganese
The simple act of crying also reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in significantly greater concentrations in tears than in blood serum. Elevated manganese levels can be associated with anxiety, irritability and aggression.