From the stage of infancy into adulthood, crying serves an important purpose. Aside from eliciting a caretaking response in others, crying can help you physically and emotionally release tension and stress.
How to Have a Stress-Reducing Cry
A stress-reducing cry can be a cathartic experience that aims to help you process an intense situation. In order to get to that vulnerable state, you will need to tap into your emotions and connect with your body. If you need a little help crying to relieve stress, try these key steps:
- Set the stage for a good cry by going into a private, dimly lit room.
- Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
- Bring up the memory of the stressful person, event or situation.
- While taking deep breaths, think about the most stressful image or snapshot from the particular scenario.
- Ask yourself what emotions come up for you and where you feel them in your body.
- Allow yourself to just feel what this (each emotion) is like.
- Continue to think about the stressful moment or situation until you begin crying.
- Once you start to get tearful, allow yourself to fully let go.
- Remember that no one is watching or judging you.
- Continue to cry until you feel a release of tension.
Handling Feelings of Overwhelm
If at any point during the exercise you feel too overwhelmed and would like to stop, know that it is perfectly normal and okay. Strategies to try if this occurs include:
- Bring up a peaceful image or a pleasant memory that makes you feel calm or happy.
- Take ten slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Try progressive muscle relaxation to get back in touch with your body.
- Remind yourself that what you are feeling is normal and that you can come back to the stressful memory at another time.
- Take a walk and get some fresh air.
- Call a trusted family member or friend.
- Consider speaking with a therapist or counselor if you have a very hard time connecting to your emotions despite wanting to do so.
- Listen to a guided imagery podcast or watch a guided imagery video.
Impact of Crying on Stress Release
People often push their emotions aside and opt to feel nothing rather than deal with stress or emotional pain. However, suppressing feelings is not healthy. Research has documented that crying to relieve stress can be highly beneficial for individuals. Crying when under stress can relieve tension. There are several reasons for this:
- The act of crying has been directly linked to the release of oxytocin, which may lead to an enhanced mood.
- When you cry, your body also releases endorphins, which can help to improve your mood.
- Crying can contribute to creating a self-soothing atmosphere because of its rhythmic pattern.
The composition of tears shed when someone is stressed out is also different from tearing up because of a reflex response. Emotional tears are made up of stress hormones, and when you cry, your body physically releases them out of your system.
Embracing a Good Cry
Pressuring yourself to get a good stress-relieving cry can feel like too much for some at first. Be patient with yourself and take it slow. Many adults were taught during their childhood that crying is a sign of weakness and therefore unacceptable. If you experienced this during your formative years, allowing yourself to cry and let go may be a bit more challenging for you than for others. Continue practicing tapping into your emotions and you will experience success. It won't be long before you will be able to reap the stress reduction benefits associated with crying.