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"Just cry it out, dear, you'll feel better", is the wisdom of our soothing mother's whisper, as she rubs our back in comfort.
The pressures of life mount and sometimes, rational stress relief strategies are just not enough. Sometimes a more primitive mechanism is useful - crying.
One stress reducer common across all history and every culture is the simple mechanism of releasing salt water from our tear ducts. "Just Cry it Out and you'll feel better, dear" is encoded in the memory banks of every youngster as their mother rocks them back and forth to be comforted.
Humans are actually the only animals who shed tears of emotion. Babies and toddlers do it all the time, but what about adults?
(Photo compliments of fotopedia.com)
Is crying it out an appropriate stress relief tool as an adult?
Are there any benefits to crying it out?
I remember a particular time a few years ago that I was using this particular stress relief strategy A LOT!
There were a number of issues I was dealing with at work and because I was implementing a number of big changes, including firing a number of individuals and hiring new ones, I became the firing range target for emotional spit balls...this leading to a very weepy woman!
On one particular morning I was listening to a radio announcer cite a study on woman and crying. My ears perked up and this is what the researchers found:
Well that was me in a nut shell. I cried at least 2.5 hours a week for months. And as I polled others, I found it to be true for others as well.
I'm not sure I cry that much now, things are going relatively well at the moment, but as a woman, I'll still cry quite readily at a sappy commercial or movie.
All my crying got me curious...there must be a biological reason that humans cry.
The reason: cleansing. Tears aid in removing waste and toxins from the body as well as shift our body's hormonal chemistry.
Crying, as it turns out is not just a loss of control or a sign of weakness, as it is often mistakenly perceived, especially by men. Instead, it is in fact a stress relief mechanism.
One interesting study looked at the chemical composition of tears collected after a group watched a sad movie and compared them to the tears generated from the same volunteers who cut up onions. What they found was that tears brought on by emotion have more stress hormones in them as well as a nurturing hormone called prolactin and endorphins, our body's natural painkilling hormone.
Tear production is also connected to the limbic part of our brain that is involved with basic emotions and researchers (Vinherhoets, et al., 2000) found that if individuals are comforted while crying, in a bonding type of situation, people report feeling better than when they cry by themselves.
So, if you are feeling upset and stressed out, the best thing to do may be to find a friend's shoulder and just cry it out...together.
Here's the thing: crying itself does not help with curing stress related illness. Things like high blood pressure have a variety of causes, but holding back emotions will certainly raise your blood pressure over time. If you are not able to find an appropriate outlet of expression for all those toxic emotions, you end up bottling them up like a volcano that is always on the verge of eruption.
It is not healthy.
There is no need to act like a tough guy any longer. Crying is proving to be valuable biologically , and a definite stress reducer. Learn to embrace it and if you need to cry for 2 plus hours a week from time to time, it is really ok.
American Singer Lesley Gore, back in 1963 got the 'Cry it Out' motto down to a tee: "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to..."
I have one and only one suggestion
Normally I would have lots of suggestions, however there is one meditation in particular that is just so powerful in terms of its ability to create emotional balance, that I'm only going to suggest this one thing and ask that you try it.
It is called Kirtan Kriya and it is an ancient meditation practice using mantra, mudra, voice and visualization.
I have an entire page on this website dedicated to Kirtan Kriya because it is simply so profoundly effective. It is also really helpful for woman in general who find that they have challenges dealing with the cycles of their body. It not only creates emotional balance, but glandular and hormonal brain balance too.
So if you have cried it out and are ready for something different...Kirtan Kriya is calling your name!
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