We often hear that laughter is the best medicine. Our culture recognizes the value of laughter. It is seen as cathartic and beneficial. We praise laughter for the health benefits. Crying on the other hand is often seen as a sign of weakness. Crying is often seen as negative. For most of my life, I held the belief that laughter and happiness are good while crying and being sad bad. Is that even true?
The last two years have been emotional for our family. We have experienced challenges and loss. As I have written often in prior posts, we have all experienced loss and disappointment in the past year. It was difficult to laugh when I wanted to cry. One day I decided to be curious and just cry. I started to find the release and comfort that came after a good cry. Was it all in my head or is there something therapeutic about crying? It turns out that crying is good for you. There are many benefits to crying. It is even backed by science.
Humans experience three types of tears. They are basil, reflex, and emotional tears. Each has a function and purpose. Basil tears maintain eye health and protect the cornea. Reflex tears flush the eyes of toxins. We get an eyelash, dust, smoke, or fumes in our eyes. All species experience basil and reflex tears but only humans express emotional tears.
What is the purpose of emotional tears? They don’t maintain eye health and they do not eliminate toxins, so what do they do? Here is just a partial list of the benefits of emotional tears:
- They help release stress from the body
- Crying releases endorphins and by doing so boosts our mood
- Emotional tears are a sign that we need care. This signals others to rally around us and support us
- Crying dulls physical pain in the body
- Tears help restore emotional balance
Crying also helps babies breathe. That is an incredible reason to cry. Crying is important. Whether you drop a few tears or go full ugly cry, don’t be afraid to let the tears flow. Crying is just as important to our health as laughter. So go ahead and have a good laugh or a good cry. Both are good for the body and the soul.