“Get Over It”: That was the mantra of my household growing up. Needless to say, strong expressions of emotion were not encouraged. Crying was for the faint of heart. Years of therapy, meditation and other practices have helped me move beyond stoicism. I now have no problems crying. In fact, crying helps me solve problems. I enjoy a good cry every now and again. My spiritual mentors tell me it’s cleansing and healing and it definitely feels like that. But the CPA/left brain part of me can’t help but wonder: What really goes on in the body when we cry emotional tears—I-just-broke-up-with-my-boyfriend tears?
Cry and wash the stress right out of your bod (literally)
A study by Dr William H. Frey II, a biochemist at the St Paul-Ramsey Medical Centre in Minnesota, has shown that emotional tears contain adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), the culprit of increases in cortisol, that infamous stress hormone linked to greater levels of abdominal or visceral fat. This lovely layer of fat is not only unattractive but also plays a major role in a host of health problems. Such fat has been shown to increase risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.
Clears the body, clears the mind
Sigmund Freud stated that blocked-up emotions can physically and psychologically hinder us. I believe (and the science backs the belief up) that we store emotions in the body. When you let your emotional gunk fester internally, it can result in aches and pains and other discomfort. That’s when a good cry can help. Did you ever become emotional in a yoga pose? That’s the result of yoga loosening up the emotional garbage you are storing–garbage that is ready to be released!
Acknowledge your emotions via crying and you can say goodbye to your destructive coping mechanisms
Not being a big fan of being emotionally expressive led me to resort to alcohol and occasional food fests when I wasn’t facing my emotions head on. If you are able to sit with your emotions in a calm and grounded place, and let the tears out, you will not only feel better but also will be less likely to escape via “coping” mechanisms that are not so great for you.
In summary, cry until the cows come home. You will feel better emotionally and you will literally be cleansing your body of internal stress. What could be better than that?
I hope this helped you!! Please let me know how crying has worked for you: Are there specific times when a cry helped you move forward in your life? Are there specific emotions that crying is good at dissolving?
Stacy Slawitsky turned to yoga and mindfulness as a means to relieve the stress of a demanding job at a Big 4 Accounting Firm. Her passion to share the benefits of these practices with others led her to start ZenConnect. She conducts stress management programs for companies throughout the Boston area.
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