Hurts So Good: Crying for Stress Relief and Healing
For these roller coaster times, cry it out.
Posted January 13, 2021 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
You may be feeling the effects of the roller coaster of 2020 — and now 2021 — soaring and diving, an amusement park ride that’s anything but amusing. This coaster’s tracks have been bumpy, unsteady, and frankly, downright scary. You’re not alone. We’ve all had a death-grip on the handles of the ride, white-knuckling it until our fingers ached. The steep climbs and free-falling drops have us all a bit shaken.
Try a Good Old-Fashioned Cry
One way to survive a precarious roller coaster ride is to let it out — scream, laugh or cry — while still being kind to those around us. You may need a good old-fashioned cry, a method of self-soothing. While perceptions of crying tend to be culture-specific, in Western cultures crying is often viewed as a stress relief.
Crying is an area that continues to draw considerable attention from counselors in the client-therapist relationship. While there have been mixed results in crying studies, after having a good deep cry, you’ll more than likely feel like a weight has been lifted. In fact, there are those in healing professions that have coined the term “crying that heals” (CTH) to describe the potential benefits of crying.
Consequences of Not Crying
Conversely, there may be consequences to the avoidance of crying, including potentially having more challenges emotionally connecting with others. Those consequences can also include
our bodies feeling the effects of holding in stress, including in the mouth and jaw. Perhaps you’ve been clenching your teeth or feeling tightness in your shoulders or back lately.
Crying provides not only a temporary stress relief (“crying therapy,” as was used for breast cancer survivors) but can also release old pain and trauma we’ve been holding — especially if we’re open to looking at the prior pain. Let it out and let it go — with an empathetic loved one or a counselor.
Journaling and Crying
You may find that the combination of journaling and crying releases pent-up emotion and stress. Journaling involves freeform writing, without censoring the outcome. Often this triggers old, stored pain that needs to be released, including deep weeping. In fact, current events may trigger buried pain and trauma, and journaling may provide a much-needed form of release.
Get the Tears Flowing
Perhaps you decide to watch a sad movie to start the tears flowing or think of a particular loss in your life — such as the loss of a beloved departed person or pet. Whatever you need to do, get those waterworks flowing when you feel the need. Grab a box of tissues and be sure to hydrate to replace lost fluid in the body.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by pain, loss, or grief, be sure to reach out for help to a trusted loved one or counselor.
Let’s turn this roller coaster ride into a self-care excursion. Cry it out and release it.