Image: Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
If there’s one thing that exasperates my friends the most, it’s how easily I cry. A character dies in a film or book? I’ll bawl. My local bakery runs out of my favourite slice? On a bad day, I’ll cry you a river.
While I may be more weepy than some, I’m definitely not alone – research has found that women will spend more than 12,000 hours (16 months!) of their lives crying. So you can imagine just how excited I was to hear that a Japanese hotel is offering special rooms for women to cry in, stocked with sad films, manga comics, high quality tissues and eye masks.
It may sound slightly ridiculous but it serves as an important reminder that crying has significant health benefits. Yes, letting the tears flow is good for you physically and mentally.
1. Goodbye toxins.
The make up of tears caused by chopping onions compared to emotional events is very different. A study by biochemist Dr William Frey found that emotional tears have higher levels of some proteins and chemicals. Just like sweating, inhaling and urinating, crying is an “exocrine process”, which enables the body with a way to get rid of excess toxins and regulate their levels.
Crying can help to wash out chemicals like adrenocorticotropic (ACTH) which is a hormone linked to stress. ACTH is responsible for triggering cortisol, the stress hormone, so by removing the chemical from the body we can physically make ourselves feel better. (Post continues after gallery.)
2. Relieves stress.
According to psychologist Dr Marny Lishman, crying is crucial for when we have feelings that cause a build up of energy:
“The energy build up is made up of stress chemicals, toxins, tension and if not released, can cause all sorts of health problems,” she explains. “So there is definitely a physical benefit to getting rid of the build up.”
In his study, Dr Frey also found that tears contain leucine enkaphalin, an endorphin that modulates pain and various hormones that are released by the body during times of stress. As a result, tears are the body’s way of flushing out excess stress hormones. Brilliant.