Let it Out: The Therapeutic Benefits of Crying
It was the first day of school, and we were running late. I had *the audacity* to believe that I could sneak in a workout, make coffee, take a shower, get my son ready for school and get that Insta-worthy first day pic (you know the one, with the sign accompanied by the bright, beaming smile of our future generations bestowing hope to all of the interwebs?)
I was shuffling my nervous 5-year-old son out the front door, hands full of school supplies, backpack, masks and hot coffee and in one swift movement, it all fell out of my hands. I screamed inside but only let out a small wimper, repeating an internal internal monologue: "Stevi, this is the first day of KINDERGARTEN. Do not ruin this."
On the road, my frustrations only continued to boil. I had hit the trifecta: traffic, slow drivers and construction. I turned the radio up a little higher trying to literally swallow and digest my feelings. We pulled up to school right in the knick of time- but... THE GATE WAS CLOSED. I was able to flag someone down and was met with a reluctant "Oh! We usually close a few minutes early. You must be new!"
It wasn't until I pulled out of the parking lot that it happened: the waterworks.
I started sobbing. It just flowed- the shame, embarrassment, guilt, frustration, exhaustion and sadness came pouring out of me. After a few minutes I caught my breath and realized that I felt better. I was exhausted, but I felt remarkably good for someone who, just minutes prior, would have been described to any observer with eyes as having an "existential meltdown."
As it turns out, we shed hormones and other toxins accumulated during stress. Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis explains "reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying." Further, emotional crying produces endorphins (natural pain killer and "feel-good" hormones.)
Many of us were conditioned to hold back our emotions in order to appear strong, powerful and resilient, however, the downstream impact can be quite destructive. Effectively, crying is the emotional equivalent to "holding in" your pee- the longer you hold it in, the less control you're going to have on your health in the long-run.
I have cried in front of my son only a handful of times but the most notable was with the loss of my grandmother and it is seared into his memory because it happens so infrequently. I am re-examining my willingness to normalize expressing my emotions in a healthy way for the benefit of our future generations- will you?
Comment below 👇 on a time you courageously cried it out?
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