While searching for your next performance gain, crying probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But hold your horses – the power of crying is well documented and shown to improve both health and performance. Read on to discover seven benefits of a quick sob
Why do we cry?
“After a 10 second power sob, without fail I felt amazing” - Ultrarunner Damian Hall on the power of crying
Crying has two broad functions:
- Intra-individual: The impact crying has on ourselves
- Inter-individual: The impact crying has on those around us
While the impact of crying on those around us is an interesting topic, we’re more concerned with its effect on us individually and how it can aid our own health and performance.
You’ll feel rejuvenated and revitalised after a quick sob
Seven benefits of a quick sob
1 Crying soothes
Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps restore balance within your body. This study in Frontiers in Psychology found crying to be “self-soothing”, in all likelihood because tears contain hormones which flush out of your body.
They went on to state that crying is “predominantly linked to stress reduction, mood enhancement and relief that follows”.
2 Effective stress relief
Professor Junko Umihara from Nippon Medical School says that “Crying is an act of self-defence against accumulating stresses…and it is more effective than laughing or sleeping in reducing stress”
3 It puts you in control
4 Give your energy
Yup, crying actually gives you energy. Science has shown that, after an initial lag, you’ll feel better for having a good sob. Your mood will also improve because crying has been shown to reduce body temperature. This is probably due to the quick breaths of cool air that accompanies crying which then cool your brain.
5 Reduce inflammation
Tears release inflammatory cytokines and help release stored energy. One incredible study even showed that people with autoimmune diseases reduced symptoms when they cried more frequently. It concluded that “Those with better control over rheumatoid arthritis were more easily moved to tears…”.
Get it all out – the crying releases emotions
6 Reduces pain
Because crying releases endorphins – feel-good chemicals we often feel after exercise – a knock-on effect is the relief of emotional and physical pain. This is why you sometimes feel numb after crying.
7 You’ll live longer
Yup, those who express emotions more freely tend to live longer. This benefit is more psychological than biological, but it’s well-known that suppressing emotions builds walls between us and those around us. This can lead to fractured relationships and makes bonds more difficult to form.
This all leads to negative thought patterns and increases isolation and alienation, which is closely linked to reduced life expectancy. The world’s Blue Zones – where disproportionate number of people life to 100 – well one of the secrets to their longevity is connection within their community.
Crying has been shown to add years to our life
Even (especially) elite athletes cry
The common perception is that athletes are hard as nails. They beat their emotions into submission, tame their inner voice, ignore the voices of doubt and remain unwavering in the face of hardship.
But it’s simply not true. Elite athletes cry as much – in fact, probably more – than the average Joe. Why?
- Maybe their buy-in is greater than that of an amateur, so highs and lows are more pronounced?
- Perhaps it’s because their lifestyle depends on their performance-determined income?
- Or maybe their identity is so intrinsically linked to performance that any weakness or failure rocks the foundation of who they perceive themselves to be
Whatever it is, they recognise the benefits of a quick sob.
Ultrarunner Damian Hall is a big believe in the power of crying
33Fuel Ambassador and all-round ultrarunning legend Damian Hall uses power crying to the max.
“When I was running the 630-mile South West Coast Path over 11 days and averaging 3hrs sleep, I got very, very tired. There was a period in the second half where I'd have a power sob at about 9-10am.
I just felt all this frustration and anguish well up – when would it ever be over, was I being a bad parent, I missed my kids – and it would erupt in this 10 second burst of emotion. And after that, without fail, I felt amazing”.
The power of crying – conclusion
Whether you’re looking for a biological, psychological or emotional boost, crying can help. Don’t bottle up your emotions – let them out and enjoy the afterglow.
Another quick and easy way to improve your well-being is to add one daily spoonful of 33Fuel Ultimate Daily Greens to your morning routine. Nutritious and delicious