The following is a bit personal. In fact it’s very personal because I’m going to be as transparent as possible while sharing the value of what my Mom used to call a “good cry”.
My friend and companion has dementia with probable Alzheimer’s. The impact on his brain is mainly in the frontal cortex and frontal-orbital area just above the eyes. That has considerable control over executive functioning which includes abilities to plan, coordinate and make strategic decisions weighing all aspects. As the disease slowly progresses, it results in lessened empathy and affect. It also reduces his ability to make wise decisions without consultation. In other words, I live with a grown person who is emotionally and mentally about 9 to 10 years old much of the time.
To say the situation is exceedingly frustrating at times is an understatement!
Women are supposed to be strong – right? I mean strong ALL THE TIME! Right? While conventional wisdom may say so; nothing is further from the truth. We are HUMAN – and humans become frustrated, sad, emotionally hung out to dry, etc. Yet more often than not the world expects us to keep our less-than-lovely emotions in check. It’s not a sign of strength (or beauty) to cry.
Hogwash! Not only is it a sign of our emotional integrity; but it’s also healthy! Especially when the need for a good cry comes from life’s stressful situations.
We expect folks to cry in sorrow. We also know that tears flow when we are overwhelmed with joy. They come when we feel the touch of Heavenly PAPA on our lives. And they can follow a heavy life loss that leaves us reeling in despair. But tears from stress? Well that’s another story.
Neuroscientist and tear researcher Dr. William H. Frey II, PhD, director of the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, studies the affects of crying. He’s spent over 15 years studying crying and tears.Here’s what his research reveals:
- 85% of women and 73% of men felt less sad and angry after crying
- On average, women cry 47 times a year, men cry 7 times a year
- Crying bouts last 6 minutes on average
- Tears are more often shed between 7 and 10 p.m.
According to Frey, “crying is not only a human response to sorrow and frustration, it’s a healthy one. Crying is a natural way to reduce emotional stress that, left unchecked, has negative physical affects on the body, including increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other stress-related disorders.” (Italics mine). The following are Dr. Frey’s 5 reasons why crying is good for us:
“Crying Relieves Stress
Because unalleviated stress can increase our risk for heart attack and damage certain areas of our brain, the human ability to cry has survival value, Frey says.
Crying Lowers Blood Pressure
Crying has been found to lower blood pressure, pulse rate, and body immediately following therapy sessions during which they cried and raged.
Tears Remove Toxins
In addition, he says tears actually remove toxins from the body. Is that they may be removing, in their tears, chemicals that build up during emotional stress.”
Crying Reduces “Manganese”
The simple act of crying also reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in up to 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood serum.
Emotional Crying Means You’re Human
While the eyes of all mammals are moistened and soothed by tears, only human beings shed tears in response to emotional stress. Emotional expression acknowledges the feelings you’re having. Emotions motivate us to empathize, coordinate and work as a unit to best survive.”
Now I know why I’ve dealt with sinus issues and body inflammation over the past 2 years since receiving friend’s definitive diagnosis. It’s not easy to be my ‘vintage age’ and feel I’m raising a child again! I also know why I stifle a “good cry” when to do so would actually relieve the stress and permit me a moment of “humanity”.
For women in the marketplace as well as life in general; to admit that a “good cry” is strength-in-action; let alone healthy is to fly in the face of what feminists have told us for years. That to cry is a sign of weakness.
No ladies – it’s not. While I don’t think we ought boo-hoo at the least provocation; I do suggest that when life stress begins to show it’s presence in our bodies; it just may be time to find a quiet place and have what my Momma called – a good cry!
So what say you? Was my Momma right? Or are you clinging to the stiff upper lip routine while the emotional floodgates inflict harm on your body?
Linda S. Fitzgerald, Visionary Partner
Champion of Ordinarily Extraordinary Women of the World
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/2382941337/pjm5n494765lxfks49h7_400x400.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]My passion is to see women become all they are designed to be – personally and professionally. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]