Crying is a natural response to the different emotions that humans experience. Whether it’s anger, sadness, happiness, or grief, any emotion can result in shedding a few tears. Men may be tempted to hold back their feelings in an effort to maintain a certain image, but this can do more harm than you might think. In fact, crying can be good for you both physically and mentally.
Why Do We Cry?
In infants and small children, tears usually signify a physical need or pain that they are unable to communicate through words. However, crying in adulthood has perplexed researchers for centuries. Researchers offer multiple explanations for this phenomenon.
A 2013 study argues that tears are often indicative of a need for support. This theory is consistent with current understandings of why infants cry as well. In adulthood, crying signals that a person has an unmet need or feels helpless. For example, someone who experiences a natural disaster may sob over the loss of their home or belongings. This isn’t necessarily related to the physical loss but could be a feeling of helplessness and uncertainty about the future.
Other researchers view crying as an effective self-soothing technique. A 2014 study argues that when a person allows themselves to feel emotions in this way, they experience mood improvement and relief. This study focuses more on the inward effects of this act as opposed to it expressing an unmet need. However, both of these articles support the idea that tears serve a greater purpose and can be good for you.
Benefits of Crying
Crying can have both physical and psychological benefits including:
- Emotion Regulation: This releases built-up emotions, reducing stress and anxiety about the situation.
- Increasing Support: Because crying can signal a need for help, this provides an opportunity for others to come alongside the person in distress to support them.
- Releasing Toxins and Hormones: Some researchers argue that emotional tears are connected to hormones and toxins, so they can help regulate these imbalances. They can also release endorphins which improve mood.
- Clearing Eye Debris: Pollen, dander, and other particles can get caught in an eye and damage the cornea if they aren’t cleared. Tears are the body’s way of keeping a person’s eyes clean and protected.
Allowing Yourself to Cry
Despite what popular culture may portray, crying is not a sign of weakness. It’s actually the body’s natural response to unexpected or difficult circumstances. There are areas in every person’s life that are outside of their control and difficult to manage. Tears signify a recognition that this is a bigger issue that needs more support.
As a young man, you may feel like you can’t allow yourself to let go and cry, but remember that this is actually a healthy and normal reaction. Tears help release built-up emotions and can relieve stress. And while this is often good for you, there are also times when this signifies a need for more support. If this happens multiple times per day or for days at a time, it’s time to seek professional care.
Mental Health Support at PACE Recovery Center
Tears in response to difficult situations, pain, or grief are usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if you’re unable to control your emotions, this could be a sign of a deeper issue. Depression and anxiety can create high levels of distress, resulting in uncontrollable tears.
At PACE Recovery Center, we offer both residential and outpatient mental health treatment. We work with young men to develop coping skills to manage the emotions they are feeling. Our treatment model emphasizes expressing feelings in a healthy way and processing through difficult life circumstances. We understand the healing power of crying and work with young men to foster a positive view of their emotions. If you or a young man you know would benefit from intensive mental health support, contact our Southern California center today.