Tears are a way to clear out pent up emotions so they don’t reside in our bodies as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. So Darwin was wrong. He once declared emotional tears “purposeless”.
A friend sent this link: “Emotions are chemical levels in your brain and your body constantly trying to maintain equilibrium. If one emotion skyrockets, that chemical becomes flagged and signals the tear duct to open as an exit to release that emotion packaged neatly within a tear. It’s why we feel more stable after crying, as if whatever emotion we were feeling had been released and we were refreshed. This is also why tears from different emotions look different under an electron microscope. They’re literally made up of different things.”
According to Joseph Stromberg of the Smithsonian, sad tears are structurally different than happy tears than grieving tears than onion tears etc.
We are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
We should think of tears as far more than a salty liquid we discharge during difficult moments.
Five Health Benefits of Tears:
1. Tears Improve Vision
Tears can actually clear up our vision by lubricating the eye. When the eyes become dehydrated, our eyesight becomes blurry. We make 15 to 30 gallons of tears every year, and this bathes the surface of the eye and washes away dust and debris. Dehydration of various mucous membranes is relieved when we cry. Dry eyes are more common in older adults because we make fewer tears as we age.
I worked in the OR with an ophthalmologist for a season, and learned our watery eyes could be a sign of dry eye syndrome.
2. Tears kill bacteria
A good cry can also kill bacteria. Tears contain the fluid lysozyme, part of the innate immune system, — also found in human milk, semen, mucus and saliva — that can kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria in just five to 10 minutes by destroying bacteria cell walls. A 2011 study published in the journal Food Microbiology found tears have strong antimicrobial powers.
3. They relieve stress and pain
A good cry is known to release stress hormone cortisol from the body, and as a result, reduces tension. It provides an emotional release of pent up negative feelings, stresses, and frustrations. It is a healthier alternative to stuffing your feelings, which can lead to health issues like high blood pressure and outbursts of anger.
4. They release toxins
To cry does not only emotionally cleanse us, it can detox and cleanse our body too. A study conducted by Dr. William H. Frey II, director of the Alzheimer’s Research Center in St. Paul, found toxic substances are released from the body when we cry.
5. They improve mood
The phrase “having a good cry” is based, many believe, in experience!
Tears can elevate our mood better than any antidepressant available. A 2008 study from the University of South Florida found to cry can be self-soothing and mood-enhancing. The shedding of tears improved the mood of almost 90 percent of criers compared to the eight percent who reported crying made them feel worse. Individuals with anxiety or mood disorders were less likely to experience the positive effects of crying.
There are three types of tears, all with different purposes.
Basal – are omnipresent in our eyes. These constant drippings are what keep our eyes from drying out completely. Not all are of the emotional variety.
Reflex –serve to protect the human eye from irritants like smoke, onions or dust and pollen in the wind.
Emotional – start in times of sadness or strong emotion. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ducts around the eyes.
“Tears are the medium of our earliest language in moments as unrelenting as death, as basic as hunger and as complex as a rite of passage,” she says. “It’s as though each one of our tears carries a microcosm of the collective human experience, like one drop of an ocean.” ~Rose-Lynn Fisher
So grab a box of Kleenex, let go of your grief and sorrows. There is One who hears!
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ~Revelation 21:4