For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from anxiety. One time I had hyperthyroidism and the doctors attributed it partly to my crisis management and stress levels.
In my family, it is clear that anxiety is in our genes. Habits such as nail-biting, scratching, sleep disorders, restlessness and picking at the skin are very common. About half of my maternal side has become co-dependent on pills to manage their anxiety. I, on the other hand, believe that I can fix it without the use of medication. Or maybe my situation just isn’t as bad as theirs. I’ve read books and found a lot of strategies online to deal with it, but most of them seem to be short term solutions.
Late last year, I realized that one of the best ways of coping with my anxiety was to schedule a time to cry. It may sound crazy to you, but I believe that anxiety arises from bottling up sadness. Crying is a way of offloading these negative emotions.
I usually sit down in a room by myself, and really think about something that’s triggering my emotions, until I start to cry. It comes from deep inside and is characterized by sobbing and weeping. I can’t think of any strategy that has helped me more than this, because once I’m done, I feel as though a large weight has been lifted off my soul, and I start to feel much better. The epiphany came to me one time when I was going to school for an evening class and I noticed that I was really happy and content. I then realized that earlier that day I had been a mess, crying all over the place and unable to keep it together. I couldn’t help but link the two to each other. Crying helped me to ease all the tension that I was carrying in my body and within a few hours, I was happy and content. In short, crying isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
My friend and I were talking about anxiety and comparing notes the other day. I advised him to try and schedule a time to cry seeing as it had worked out for me in ways I couldn’t imagine. He listened to all I had to say and then went ahead to tell me that it wasn’t a solution for him. He said that crying makes him feel like he’s out of control with his emotions and this lack of control makes everything worse. We agreed to disagree when I mentioned to him that the reason why he thought this way was because of how society has raised men to always “man up” to situations. I don’t believe that crying means that you are out of control. If anything, anxiety and panic attacks are way more ‘out of control’ than crying.
Contrary to what most people believe, research has found that crying releases oxytocin and endorphins which help a person to feel good in the long run.
Here are the health and mental benefits of crying:
- Crying releases toxins and relieves us of our stress
Tears contain stress hormones such as Adrenocorticotropic hormone which helps the body to react to stress. This explains why when we cry we are able to relieve ourselves of nervousness and anxiety. Crying gets rid of these stress hormones and toxins and in the long run, we are able to feel much better about ourselves. However, fake crying does not work. It has been said that when you fake cry, you don’t actually feel the pain and therefore the tears will not contain the hormones that help with stress relief. Therefore the tears have to be real. Everyone has something to cry about, and finding what that thing is will help you a great deal in dealing with your stress.
- Enhances a person’s mood
If you really think about it, after every session of crying you feel much better than you did before you started. Crying helps to lift a person’s mood. Crying for long periods of time makes the body to release oxytocin and endorphins (also known as feel-good hormones). These hormones have the ability to lift a person’s general frame of mind. This is why it’s important to cry.
- Aids in sleep
You’ve probably seen jokes on the internet about the sleep that comes after a good cry. It’s beautiful. I always thought it was just theoretical, but research has proven the theory to be true. Stress and tension will cause your body to become easily tired. As a result, your brain sends signals to your body, telling it to find some needed rest. This explains the “post-cry” sleep.
4. Maintains health of the eye
Scientifically, tears lubricate our eyeballs and eyelids as well as preventing dehydration of our various mucous membranes. In a normal situation, basal tears are released every time a person blinks. These tears help to keep the eyes moist and prevent mucous membranes from drying out. On the other hand, emotional tears further provide this lubrication and this helps to maintain the overall health of the eye.
- Fights bacteria
A few years before he won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of penicillin, bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovered that tears have an antiseptic effect. They have an enzyme called lysozyme that fight germs and bacteria. He collected and crystallized lysozyme from his own tears, then demonstrated its miraculous power to dissolve bacteria before their very eyes.