Words by Emily Burkhardt Art by Ty Foley
Crying is one of the most controversial bodily functions. We can all agree that everyone digests and poops without too much opposition but crying seems to be a little on the nose for some. It’s just liquid coming out of your eyes, but there seems to be this orbit of emotional stigma around crying that can get in the way of just getting it all out.
Crying is a physical manifestation of internal emotion, so essentially, it’s your body telling you to do something. Why deny your mind and body the sweet release it craves? As scary as that might be, opening up to one another is how we connect and grow as people and as a society. Spreading the word that crying is actually healthy, and not something to be dismissed as weak or undignified, will help normalise it. The stigma around crying and being deeply in touch with your emotions is toxic when it stops you from being able to process your emotions in a way that is best for you. News flash: if you cry, congratulations—you’re human. Look around, we all are too.
If you speak eye biology, crying triggers both the arousing sympathetic nervous system and the sedating parasympathetic nervous system. But because the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged for a longer period of time, people often remember crying as a soothing and cathartic experience. This occurs through purging your body of unwanted toxins and stress hormones and giving those pent-up emotions somewhere to go. No more repressed feelings!
In fact, a 2015 study found that there was a relationship between crying for a short period of time and long-term mood improvement. Despite the initial dip in mood immediately after the cry itself, researchers found that people reported feeling better 90 minutes after crying.
Facing your inner thoughts head on and allowing yourself to just feel fucking sad for a second isn’t the easiest thing in the world. But letting the stigma win or ignoring a problem tends to make it harder to deal with. So just let it all out, settle in the knowledge that crying is a fucking normal thing.
Crying for Beginners
The act of crying is a unique and personal experience. Unsure of whether you’re crying appropriately? Here are a few general pointers:
- There doesn’t necessarily need to be a reason for your tears. Happy or sad, just be glad you are not a robot. Those suckers don’t feel anything.
- Tears versus make-up…. Tears will win EVERY time. Plan accordingly.
- You’re discharging water from your eye sockets. So return that water to your body and stay hydrated.
- Post crying naps are normal and encouraged. Treat yourself, you’ve earned it.
Not in public? If you’re secure enough in your ability to communicate with strangers about the reason you’re crying in public, go right ahead and let yourself go in Aisle 5 of your local Coles. But if you’d prefer these moments to be more private, try places where you are more alone.
- Bed: Unless you live in Pixar’s next hit movie, your pillows aren’t going to tell anyone what’s been happening between the sheets. Besides, you’re in the perfect position for a post-cry nap.
- The shower: Just add crying in between your face scrub and loofah routine. The shower’s running water will also mask any sobbing sounds.
- The car: Cars give people this weird sense of privacy despite the many windows. Crack up the sad songs and let those tears flow, just make sure you don’t become a road hazard.
Suggested songs/song categories:
- Songs that trigger personal sad memories: Each to their own. Whether it’s the song from your dog’s funeral or a song that reminds you of your douchebag ex, shop around and see what gets you to the tear-jerking place.
- Brother Bear soundtrack: Trust me, this will make you weep.
- Anything by Adele: She works a heart-wrenching ballad like no-one else, and Someone Like You, Turning Tables and her cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love are some of her best tear-jerkers.
- Sad songs from musicals: Examples include ‘Memory’ from Cats (ignore the fact she’s a singing cat, she’s in pain!), ‘She Used to Be Mine’ from Waitress (especially good for crying about being a struggling adult!) and ‘Waving Through A Window’ from Dear Evan Hansen (all the adolescent feels!)
- Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.: The literal manifestation of a self-help crying session. Everybody hurts, everybody cries. But we’ll all be okay in the end. Take it from this 1992 classic.