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The Healing Power of Tears

The Healing Power of Tears

Oh, go ahead. Have a good cry. You’ll feel better.

It has been said that laughter is the best medicine, but crying can also be very cathartic.

Judith Orloff, M.D., author of Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, writes, “For over 20 years as physician, I’ve witnessed time and again the healing power of tears. Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety and frustration.” In a Huffington Post article, Dr. Orloff says she actually encourages her patients to cry.

Tears produced as a physical reflex are 98 percent water, but emotional tears also excrete stress hormones and other harmful toxins caused by stress.

Physically, tears lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, and reduce stress hormones. After a good cry, there is a decrease in breathing and heart rates as we enter a calmer emotional and biological state.

Emotionally, it’s something many of us instinctively know — crying doesn’t solve a problem, but it offers relief and makes us feel better. We don’t often admit it, but some of us have been known to plan a good cry to achieve that relief.

Dr. Orloff warns that suppression of emotions can lead to depression. “Thank God our bodies have this capacity. Let your tears flow to purify stress and negativity.”

Last year, Science Daily reported on an analysis by Tel Aviv University evolutionary biologist Dr. Oren Hasson, showing that tears not only signal physiological distress, but function as an evolution-based mechanism to bring people closer together. Dr. Hasson called crying “a highly evolved behavior.”

William Shakespeare knew it. “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”

Charles Dickens knew it. “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.”

Golda Meir knew it. “Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.”

You don’t really have to plan it, but neither should you fight it. Sometimes a good cry is just what the doctor ordered.

Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

Read more: Blogs, Depression, Family, General Health, Health, Living with MS, Mental Wellness, Natural Remedies, Stress, Women's Health, , , , , , , ,

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116 comments

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9:57AM PST on Nov 25, 2011

I'm not an easy crier, even though my mum always encouraged it if we were upset. My partner, however, cries at almost anything - especially at Star Trek!

5:57AM PDT on Jul 15, 2011

Thanks for the article, but there are still many people who do not want to accept tears. Men and boys often do not show tears, because of that stupid idea that males should not cry (only because of sports as audience or as sportsmen), besause they have learned it at home. Women and girls are allowed, but there are enough people who think they should hide their tears.

As if it is a big mistake to show these feelings, that someone is sad

I wish more people would recognize how much influence depression have on health, work, etc. That it is an illness and not beeing sad for a while. There are still too many people, also in families, who do not want to see the problem, who shake heads, call a depressed person lazy etc., that he/she should pull him/herself up (is it the word? Sorry, but i am not from an English speaking country). They do not want to read about it, do not know something about it - as if this ignorance could erase that problem... this reminds me about that monkey figures, on with hand over the eyes, one with hand over the ears, one with hand over mouth (i do not know if there are more). I have depressions, too. Since childhood i have been silent, shy and thoughtful, then, i don't know when it became more. I also have borderline (wounds and wishes to not wake up anymore since childhood), trauma experiences, and burnout. And i still have not found out how to live with all these, it has always been a "surviving"...

12:05AM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

thanks

2:27AM PDT on Oct 14, 2010

women cries more as compared to man. hence heart attack chances are less in women.

thanks for this wonderful idea.

5:43PM PDT on Sep 14, 2010

I cry as needed. I wish everyone would just let go.
It's like having a good laugh .... in reverse.

7:40AM PDT on Aug 24, 2010

completely true article

11:44AM PDT on Aug 21, 2010

many are ashamed to cry, I am ok with crying, but I prefore to do alone so no one can see it.

10:34AM PDT on Aug 19, 2010

My mom always told me that crying was ok and it would make me feel better and it always did so i think this is very true.

9:00AM PDT on Aug 15, 2010

crying, smiling hey its all part of a naturel process

6:13AM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

thanks...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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