- When we cry, oxytocin, endorphins, and cortisol are released in our tears. This leads to feelings of connection, relaxation, and reduced stress.
- Crying also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing us to feel tired and calmer.
- Holding our emotions inside can lead to a variety of illnesses and medical complications over time.
We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “You just need a good cry” at least once before when upset. But do you know the reasons why crying is beneficial for our health?
Oxytocin, Endorphins, and Cortisol
Shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin, endorphins, and cortisol. To fully understand why crying can make us feel better, we require a basic understanding of these three hormones. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone” because its release leads to feelings of connection and relaxation. Endorphins are known to relieve stress and pain and lead to feelings of happiness. Lastly, cortisol is our main stress hormone. So no wonder we feel better after crying. Some of our stress is released through tears along with hormones associated with positive feelings!
Crying Activates The Parasympathetic Nervous System
Additionally, crying has been proven to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to feelings of relaxation. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for digestive processes and preparing us for rest; knowing this helps us to understand why we feel calmer and more tired after crying.
Keeping Our Emotions Bottled Up
Keeping our emotions inside, like our society often still encourages men to do, can lead to emotional withdrawal and self-medication. Refusing to confront our emotions has also been linked to poorer immune system functioning, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and mental health conditions. That is a host of potential problems to deal with! Letting it out, or talking to someone about what is bothering us, is how we receive the support we need.
However, if you find yourself crying frequently or for unknown reasons, it is important to seek professional medical support. Of course, crying on a daily or weekly basis can disrupt a person’s daily activities and overall quality of life.
Burgess, L. (2017, October 7). Eight benefits of crying: Why it’s good to shed a few tears. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319631
Longhurst, A. S. (2018, August 30). Why Is oxytocin known as the ‘love hormone’? and 11 other FAQs. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/love-hormone
Newhouse, L. (2021, March 1). Is crying good for you? Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-crying-good-for-you-2021030122020