Think back on your earliest embarrassment (just play along with me here). For the more awkward among us, an embarrassing moment is likely among your first conscious memories, and it's likely that at least half of the mortification you felt in that moment wasn't about what you did, but how you reacted. For some reason, we are all mortally humiliated by the idea of crying in public, with a lot of us feeling uncomfortable to cry even in front of people we know. This hesitation to show feelings largely stems from the reluctance to let anyone perceive us as "weak", but when you think about it, crying is a perfectly natural biological reaction to an emotion, the same way we smile when we're happy and turn really red when we're mad. And for the most part, we're not embarrassed when those happen to us. So what's the deal with the #sadshame?
There has been ample research done on the benefits of crying, not that we especially needed science to make us aware of the benefits of a good cry. We already actively seek out a good cry if we feel like we need a release. We are the only animals that actively produce tears and it feels damn good. I'm not saying we should cry all the time, but there is no reason to associate shame with crying, especially when there are so many benefits to it:
Crying Genuinely Makes You Feel Better
A study showed that after crying, 88.8% of people feel better, whereas only 8.4% felt worse. The researchers said the shift in mood was large enough to warrant possibly inducing crying for people who need a release (might I suggest an early morning showing of Mockingjay?).
Tears Are An Important Communication Tool
Yes, we are embarrassed when people notice that we are crying. It's not like we do it on purpose. But researchers have theorized that tears are an evolutionary adaptation that signals to other humans when you're in distress and need help. One study showed that participants were a lot more likely to help and empathize with a face with tears on it than they were with the same crying face with the tears digitally removed.
Crying Reduces Stress
Emotional tears release a chemical called adrenocorticotrophic (ACTH), which is the chemical that triggers high levels of cortisol in the body, the major hormone involved in stress. You're basically just leaking stress. Gotta love the human body.
Crying Might Help To Reduce Pain
While little research has been done on the phenomenon, researchers theorize that tears indirectly reduce pain by prompting the intervention of other people, particularly when it prompts human touch, which is known to help reduce pain.
Your Body Is Calmer After You Cry
Everybody had that night (or many nights) in college when they were up at 2AM studying for a final, and just suddenly, conclusively, irrationally decided they were screwed and burst into tears. This usually happened to me ten pages into a twenty page research paper that was due the next day (GO TEAM PROCRASTINATION). But did you notice that once you had that good cry and got it out of your system, you were able to focus more easily? Crying forces the body to slow down its breathing, which instills a sense of calm once you're done flooding the back corner of the library.
Crying Might Improve Your Immune System Functioning
Research into this is ongoing, but a few years ago, scientists had patients with latex allergies put into two groups: one watched an emotional movie that induced tears, and the other watched a not-so-emotional movie. Of the people who cried, their allergic reaction to latex was significantly lower, and they had fewer immunoglobulins at the site of the reaction, which indicate more severity. Researchers are looking to expand this research into other applicable health concerns.
So now that I've basically bragged about how awesome crying is, you're probably itching for a good cry to get in on the action, right? Stay tuned, my fellow tearful friends. I've got a few videos here that will give you a jumping point:
1. The Wedding Scene From The Office
Honesty hour: Not even three days have passed since this song randomly came up on the radio, and literally just listening to the song I basically burst into tears in front of the poor unsuspecting sister was chauffeuring. A hundred years will pass before I am even slightly over PB&J (Pam Beesly and Jim, if you're not hip on the 'shipper lingo).
2. This Little Girl Weeping About Her Brother Growing Up
If you were conscious during the month of June, you already saw this video of sweet big sister Sadie bawling her eyes out realizing that her little brother wouldn't be so little for long, but trust me, you will cry just as hard the second, third, and fourth time.
3. Carrie Underwood's "This Is Just A Dream" Music Video
If you don't already know what this song is about, I dare you to watch it, because you will never hear the opening chords again without openly weeping.
4. This Weather Reporter Proposing To His Girlfriend On Live Television
HOW ARE PEOPLE THIS CLEVER AND ADORABLE?!?! And more importantly, how can I get an invite to this wedding?
5. Marine Surprises His Sister At Her Graduation
She was disappointed to find out that he wouldn't be coming home from Afghanistan until a month after she graduated...buuuuut her parents lied, and California Polytechnic was all about helping make this GUT-WRENCHINGLY ADORABLE reunion on the graduation stage happen.
6. Christian The Lion's Reunion With His Human Owners
Again, you've probably already seen this. AGAIN, YOU WILL WEEP.
Anyway, sorry for emotionally wrecking you on a Friday. I'll slowly help you assimilate back into human territory by dropping this fake trailer for a Mean Girls reunion here, because it is highly unlikely it will make you cry (I hope):
Images: Fox; Giphy (3)