As I finished my online yoga class on Monday morning, I was feeling good … but also … hmm … wobbly.
There I was sitting on my mat, waving to my instructor, my body was feeling strong and relaxed.
And my mind was more aligned and clear.
But I was about to get up when a wave of emotion rose up.
I could feel it in my chest and my throat.
A sneaky tear rolled down my cheek.
I thought ‘Wait … I feel great … what’s this?’
Another couple of tears followed … and I sat there in shock.
I thought ‘Well … it has been an intense week … lockdown #6 … rescheduling clients … alone … in my house … again.’
And then the tears really picked up speed.
I thought ‘Yeah … that’s right … alone … all by myself … no family …’
You can imagine the flow now, I’m sure.
I thought ‘It’s happening now … might as well let it go … business has stopped … I miss my sisters … I miss my mum & dad … I’m not even allowed to speak to my friends on the street!!’
Yep I was on a roll …
I thought ‘Probably need to do some tapping to help me honour and shift these emotions.’
And so, I cried and tapped and cried some more.
I spoke outloud the fears and worries and concerns that I had been holding inside.
I sooke outloud about the overwhelm, the frustration and the anger.
I spoke outloud about not liking the cold winter weather.
I spoke outloud about feeling sad for all the other business people.
I spoke outloud about hiding my pain from others because I want to protect them.
I recognised that I was also hiding my pain to protect myself.
I recognised that I was not expressing my true feelings enough.
I recognised that my fears are allowed to be shared.
I recognised that my overwhelm and frustration and anger is okay.
I recognised that I had not really addressed my stress about the lockdowns.
I allowed myself to feel lonely.
I allowed myself to feel sad.
I allowed myself to feel hopeless.
I allowed myself to feel exhausted.
Then I curled up on my mat and wrapped the blanket around me.
I let myself be nurtured.
It was about time.
It was needed.
It was essential.
Have you cried yet (today?) …
Neuroscientist Dr. William H. Frey II, author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears and founder and co-director of the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, has spent over 20 years studying crying and tears.
According to Frey, “Crying is not only a human response to sorrow and frustration, it’s also a healthy one.” It is a natural way to reduce stress that, if left unchecked, can have negative physical effects on the body, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other stress-related disorders. In addition to the physical benefits, research shows that 85 percent of women and 73 percent of men feel less sad and angry after shedding some tears.
How Is Crying Good for You?
- It Relieves Stress
Chronic stress can increase the risk of heart attack, damage certain areas of the brain, contribute to digestive issues like ulcers, and cause tension headaches and migraines, among other health issues. “Humans’ ability to cry has survival value,” Frey emphasizes. When it comes to stress reduction techniques for family caregivers, crying may not be as effective as something like respite care, but in dire circumstances a good cry can provide a temporary release.
- Crying Lowers Blood Pressure
Crying has been found to lower blood pressure and pulse rate immediately following therapy sessions during which patients cried and vented. High blood pressure can damage the heart and blood vessels and contribute to stroke, heart failure and even dementia.
- Tears Remove Toxins
In addition, Frey says crying actually removes toxins from the body. Tears help humans eliminate stress hormones like cortisol that build up during times of emotional turmoil and can wreak havoc on the body. Crying is both a physical and emotional release that helps humans start over with a blank slate.
- It Reduces Manganese
The simple act of crying also reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in significantly greater concentrations in tears than in blood serum. Elevated manganese levels can be associated with anxiety, irritability and aggression.
- Embrace Your Emotions and Humanity
While the eyes of all mammals are moistened and soothed by tears, only human beings shed tears in response to emotional stress. Crying helps us acknowledge the feelings we’re experiencing, and emotions motivate us to empathize, coordinate and work together to survive. In fact, crying serves an important social function. It communicates the strength and nature of relationships, elicits sympathy and even assistance, and draws individuals closer to one another.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and fighting back tears, do yourself a favor and keep these points in mind. Finding a quiet place to decompress or a supportive shoulder to cry on might be exactly what you need.