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