Crying is one of those natural, uncontrollable (we’re not talking crocodile tears here) reactions that few of us enjoy. Having a good cry in public or in the office is almost frowned upon, unless you’re under the age of five. Yet, research continues to flag up the benefits of a good old cry.
This week, a new study by researchers from the University of Queensland and Tilberg University found that not only do your cortisol (stress hormone) levels drop just before you cry, but crying helps keep your heart rate more measured. The study took 197 women and showed some of them a neutral video and some of them a sad video before plunging their left hand into icy water – this is also known as a Cold Pressor Stress Test (CPT). Those who cried during the sad video were able to maintain their initial breathing rates, while the non-criers saw a sharper elevation.
While heart rate isn’t a consideration for any of us before or during a cry, this study does highlight how important our emotional wellbeing is to our overall health. As mentioned, this isn’t the first time the benefits of crying have been studied. In 2014 a study found that crying can have a self-soothing effect on people, helping them to relax. Just a year later a small study made the connection between crying and sleep.
Interestingly, there is some research to suggest that crying can even offer pain-relief thanks to the rush of endorphins and oxytocin you get after shedding tears. These same endorphins also help to boost your mood and give you that feel good factor.
There are of course other ways to boost your mood, including upping the amount of exercise you do, taking a healthier approach to your diet and socialising and laughing more. Reducing your stress levels is also paramount to improving your mood. If you know that you’re about to go into a particularly stressful period or haven’t managed to ease your stress symptoms through the methods mentioned, it’s worth looking into Magnolia Rhodiola Complex. Magnolia extracts have been shown to physically relax your muscles, while rhodiola rosea helps to increase your tolerance to stress. You can also cry, but depending on how long the stressful period lasts for it could mean watching a lot of sad movies.