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Why People Who Cry A Lot Are Mentally Stronger, Healthier And Freer

Why People Who Cry A Lot Are Mentally Stronger, Healthier And Freer

What do these words and phrases mean to you? Cry baby, weepy, tearful, and emotional. Most times, these words have negative connotations. They are associated with weakness or a lack of control. Society expects us to keep a stiff upper lip. This stems from stoic Victorian attitudes, but in other eras, crying openly was expected in some circumstances. It was quite acceptable to cry openly for the loss of friends when mourning and was considered noble. Medieval monks often wept for their sins!

Attitudes are changing, but it is still taboo to cry openly at work, unless you have suffered a bereavement or some other personal loss. Crying at work is not okay when you are frustrated, angry, under attack, or have had a poor performance assessment.

Research by Kimberley Elsbach at UC Davis is fascinating, though. She examined over 100 crying incidents. Women who cried were likely to be judged negatively and were seen either as manipulating, unstable or over emotional. But 8 of the 9 men who cried were actually viewed sympathetically, because they were showing a more human and compassionate side to their nature.

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Let’s leave the workplace and look at how crying can make us stronger mentally and can be actually physically good for us. Here are 6 myths doing the rounds with some research findings to debunk them.

1. People who cry feel terrible

They may feel sad while crying, but the benefits that follow are amazing. Studies show that up to 89% of people who have cried buckets feel in a better mood afterwards. One of the reasons is that manganese is released when weeping. Manganese is a vital mineral for many essential bodily functions such as absorbing calcium, metabolizing fat and regulating blood sugar. Too much of it tends to result in fatigue, anxiety and aggression. Crying can help lower the levels of manganese, other toxins and stress hormones, which is one of the reasons we always feel better afterwards. It is also interesting to note that teardrops contain as much as 30 times the amount of manganese that is in our blood. So, let the tears flow. It can do you a lot of good.

2. Crying can make you feel ashamed

If you always hide your emotions, then crying will certainly make you feel ashamed. Believe it or not, expressing emotions through tears is part of being emotionally mature. Once you have overcome that barrier, you will be reap many benefits. You will feel better and freer than ever before.

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3. Weeping does nothing for your health

This is another myth that reflects the misinformation going around about crying. Among the fascinating ingredients of the average teardrop, we have the lysozyme fluid. This is your own anti-bacterial protection. It will help prevent eye infections. If your nose starts running too, that is all the better as lysozyme will protect the whole area from germs. It is estimated that tears can kill up to 90% of bacteria in a very short time. It is also effective against anthrax.

4. Crying only adds to depression

There is no evidence that crying increases depression, nor are there any conclusive studies that it is more effective than anti-depressants. But many aspects of weeping and being tearful can help a depressed person, though it should not be their main activity! But crying can help them to come to terms with difficult emotions such as despair. It can help to purify negativity.

“Crying is cathartic. It lets the devils out before they wreak all kind of havoc with the nervous and cardiovascular systems. All these feelings need to be felt. We need to stomp and storm; to sob and cry; to perspire and tremble.”- John Bradshaw, author of Homecoming

5. Crying cannot actually benefit your eye health

Tears are essential and will help to keep eyes lubricated. When you cut an onion, these are known as reflexive tears and together with basal tears, they help to keep eyes free from infection. Your eyes will manufacture tears when you get an object in them or when the wind blows very strongly. These are all essential for good eye health and the best ones of all are the emotional tears, as we have mentioned above.

The majority of those who suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome, where there are not enough tears to keep the eyes moist and healthy, were found to be repressing emotional expression. Incapacity to cry was damaging their eye health but the underlying cause was doing more harm emotionally and psychologically.

6. Real men don’t cry

Figures show us that women tend to cry 47 times a year while men only do it 7 times! Men do not cry because they have been taught not to. They end up by expressing their anger and frustration in more aggressive and destructive ways. This can massively damage relationships at home and at work.

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There were times when men were respected when they cried because it indicated that they were in actual touch with their feelings and emotions. It was even seen as a sign of being a real leader and warrior.

Real people, women and men, do cry and they should do more of it! They will live longer and healthier lives.

“Given that I sweat a lot and hate deodorant, I suppose it makes sense that I weep often. But I’m not going to apologize for that, because after a good cry, I always feel cleansed, like my heart and mind just rubbed each other’s backs in a warm bath.” – Benedict Carey, New York Times reporter.

Featured photo credit: Been Crying(1)/ Toni Blay via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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