Summit Physical Therapy - September/October 2021


participants who cried while watching a sad movie and compared their tears to participants who cried because of a cut onion. Frey said the emotional tears were not only unique to humans but that they’re also a “unique kind of tear.” Their unique chemical makeup has both a detoxifying and stress- reducing effect. Emotional tears have higher levels of ACTH, a stress hormone released by crying. They also have higher levels of endorphins and oxytocin, which are known to reduce both stress and pain.

Ronda Rousey is tough. She was the first American woman to earn a medal in the Olympics for judo, and she was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame to commemorate her six titles. Rousey is noted for her physical and mental toughness, so it might surprise you to learn that she loves a good cry.

“I really cry all the time … Everything [makes me cry]. Especially during fight week,” she told the Huffington Post.

While crying is more often associated with weakness than strength, the science of the tears we shed when we’re emotional — including feelings of anger, sadness, and stress — shows that crying actually makes us healthier.

Crying and Your Health

The benefits of crying have been explored by everyone from ancient philosophers to modern-day scientists. While philosophers noted the cathartic effects of crying, scientists have filled in the knowledge gaps about why crying feels good and how it’s actually good for us.

More Than Just Water

Before you cry, you may feel a welling up of tears in your eyes that makes them appear watery. While tears of all types are mainly made up of water, scientists say that they are distinguished by their chemical makeup. Biochemist Dr. William H. Frey produced foundational scientific research on the science of crying. He collected tears from research

The stress-reducing benefits of crying don’t just feel good in the moment. There are several secondary benefits such as:

• Lower blood pressure, which keeps your heart healthy and helps you avoid stroke, heart failure, and dementia

• Lower manganese levels, which helps decrease anxiety, irritability, and aggression

• Decreased risk of ulcers and other digestive issues

• Decreased risk of tension headaches and migraines

Finally, crying serves an important social role. Tears elicit sympathy, signal that something is wrong, and facilitate connection during hard times. If you find yourself having chronic or uncontrollable bouts of tears, something else may be going on and you should seek professional help. But if you find yourself crying when stressed, angry, or sad, embrace your tears, knowing they’re helping make you healthier both mentally and physically.


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