Why Crying Can Be Good For You
Emotions are one of the things that make humans unique. It can serve as a means of motivation, inspiration, and drive.
Sadness may not be anyone’s favorite emotion, but it is powerful. One of the hallmark’s of sadness is crying. You might cry during happy moments as well, but normally you associate crying with sadness.
Regardless of what gender you are, crying may not be such a bad thing. A good cry might even be good for you.
Why Do We Cry?
Did you know that humans are the only species able to shed emotional tears? I didn’t either, but it’s an interesting piece of trivia.
Have you ever wondered what the purpose of crying is? You wouldn’t be the first, and it hasn’t been a heavily researched topic. But scientists are curious about it, too.
Some suspect it’s an evolutionary signal for support or compassion. Others believe it may help regulate emotions by improving mood.
However, the science exploring the second guess has been a bit mixed. Some studies have found that crying can boost emotional recovery, while others have found that it reduces mood.
Crying It Out
Scientists from the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands wanted to find out why there was a discrepancy in the data. What was really going on with people who were tearing up?
So they designed a little experiment that would hopefully tell them. And what’s the best way to make people cry?
The participants were told to watch movies that were known to make people emotional. After watching, they were to assess how they felt. To keep a more accurate record, though, the scientists also had them report their emotion levels 20 minutes after the movie, and one final time 90 minutes later.
So here’s what they found. Ladies were more likely to cry than men, and were also observed crying more often while watching the films.
For the non-cryers, not much was different. There mood was relatively unchanged at the end of the movie and later. They simply went on with their day like nothing had happened. Like big, unemotional robots.
While many of you probably expected those outcomes, this is where it gets interesting.
For the cryers, it was different. Researchers noticed an immediate dip in mood following the film. 20 minutes later, though, that mood had returned to normal levels. Back to square one. The final assessment – 90 minutes after the film had ended – actually saw an increase in mood.
That’s right. Their mood was even higher than before they watched the film. And in case you were curious, the mood levels weren’t in any way related to how many times they cried during the movie.
Gracanin – the lead author of the study – sums up the findings nicely:
“After the initial deterioration of mood following crying, it takes some time for the mood not only to recover but also to be lifted above the levels at which it had been before the emotional event.”
Their study was published in the journal Motivation and Emotion.
Letting It Out
Ladies, it’s alright if you catch some flack for being emotional at movies. Just be satisfied knowing that you’ll be in a better mood than them later in the day. Fellas, it’s okay for you to cry too. Just don’t let your buddies see you. It might be hard to live that down.
Some of you may be a little shy about crying. Maybe even vulnerable. So I offer you this gem that’s also from a movie.
When emotional take Shrek’s advice, “Better out than in, I always say.”
Image: Axel Naud