If you asked any of my friends, they’d tell you that I am an unashamedly emotional person. What can I say; sometimes, I need to cry! I’ll tear up pretty much whenever the mood strikes. But I’d still much rather do it in controlled circumstances.
If you feel like you might benefit from letting it all out, you could try doing the same things I do when I need an emotional release. Whether you’re a communal crier or you like to do your puling in private, these tips will work for you either way. You just have to allow yourself to relax and let it all out!
All Aboard the Tearjerker Train: 8 Things I Do When I Need to Cry
Crying is one of those wonderfully unique experiences that only humans get to have. No other animal can cry the way we do — to express pain, love, joy, frustration, and many other emotions. Honestly, I’ve even cried because a piece of music was too beautiful for me to handle. And I wish that was an exaggeration.
But if you’re not as used to crying as I am — and that’s totally understandable — you can take baby steps. So the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you feel safe and comfortable with crying wherever you are.
1. Find the Right Spot for a Meltdown
As I have already mentioned, I have no qualms about tearing up while listening to a good soundtrack on the bus. Still, if I have a choice, I’d much rather snivel in the comfort of my home. If you’re shy about showing emotions, you probably feel the same way.
So the first thing you’ll have to sort out is finding the right location for your meltdown. Obviously, if you’re at work, you shouldn’t just start weeping out in the open. Ideally, you’d wait until you got home to do it. But if you can’t hold it in, you should at least try to find a private spot.
If you make it home without crying, you don’t have to confine yourself to your bedroom. If you live alone or don’t mind crying around family members or your partner, you can do it in the living room or wherever else you feel comfortable.
Furthermore, as someone who’s wept pretty much anywhere you can think of, I can always get behind a good shower cry. Outdoor bawling sessions are another favorite of mine — if you have access to a garden, you should try it. Something about water and nature just does it for me; call me melodramatic!
Ultimately, I recommend scheduling your crying sessions. That way, you’ll be able to control where and when they happen, which will leave you feeling much more comfortable with the whole thing.
2. Set the Scene
Once you have found a nice place for your breakdown, you’ll just need to grab a few things before you start. When I feel like I need to cry, I usually start by finding some tissues or handkerchiefs, dimming the lights, and snuggling up with a warm blanket.
One important thing I often forget to do is pour myself a nice glass of water or a cup of tea. We have to rehydrate if we want to avoid a post-meltdown headache.
Depending on the vibe I’m going for, I might even break out some snacks or pour myself a glass of wine. This all depends on personal preference.
If you really want to treat yourself, you could also light a few scented candles. After all, our sense of smell is intricately connected with our emotional processing system. So the right scent may evoke feelings that might help you get in the right mindset for crying.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about how you can help yourself open up the floodgates.
3. Feel Your Feelings
This tip may sound easy enough, but it’s often one of the hardest things to do. Here’s how I allow myself to cry about something that’s been weighing on my mind for a while.
After I settle into my sobbing nest, I start thinking about whatever triggered my somber mood. Sometimes, if I need to cry about a specific event or lament losing someone dear to me, I’ll find some memorabilia to help me focus my sorrow. Photos and home videos will work, as will journaling about the event or people you want to cry about.
Remember, the point here is to let these thoughts come to us at a time that is convenient for us. So let’s say you’ve spent the whole day distracting yourself with errands, but you know that you’re feeling emotionally unsettled. In that case, you might want to set aside an hour or two in the evening just to bawl your eyes out.
When I find myself thinking about all the things I need to cry about in the middle of the day, I usually take a moment to write it down. That allows me to save whatever I’m feeling for later and focus on the tasks I’m currently working on.
4. Use Prompts to Remember the Things You Want to Cry About
If my memories aren’t strong enough to trigger tears, I’ll use external prompts to help me focus on my pain. So if looking through mementos didn’t work, find something else that reminds you of the person or event you need to grieve.
If you’re mourning a breakup, you can listen to songs that remind you of your ex. Hey, Sam Smith is the one man that will always be there for you. On the other hand, if you’re mourning the death of a loved one, watch a movie that reminds you of them. And there are probably plenty of movies that depict the exact situation you’re in.
I find that doing these things can help me focus on my pain when I need to cry. If you discover that nothing works, though, you might want to check in with yourself to get to the bottom of the problem.
What could be stopping you? Do you have negative thoughts about showing emotion? Do you feel ashamed or incompetent when you cry? Try to get around your numbness by treating yourself as you would treat a friend.
Once you allow yourself to open up, the waterworks will surely follow. And if you’re unable to find the source of the issue on your own, there’s no shame in seeking therapy. In any case, therapists know how to make people comfortable enough to cry. So if you’re a bit emotionally constipated, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek professional help.
5. Fake It Till You Make It
If I don’t really have anything to be sad about, but I still feel like I need to cry, music and movies can help a great deal. They can put you in an emotional state of mind even if you don’t think you have anything to cry about.
However, this will require some self-awareness on your part. By now, you should already have a good idea of what might incite an emotional response from you even when you’re not technically feeling sad. But why would we want to do that?
Well, whenever I start randomly crying because of music or movies out of the blue, it makes me realize that those tears had been waiting for their chance to drop. Usually, it’s because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.
Art can provide the release you need — and it’s not just movies and music that can provoke that kind of reaction. Books are another great way to release tension. Some authors have based their entire careers on their ability to make us weep — I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks!
Of course, for you, other things may trigger this kind of reaction. Give everything a chance! You can watch sad movies like P.S. I Love You or Up, if you’re more into animation. Any Pixar film would do the trick.
6. Find a Nice Shoulder to Cry On
If you’re already planning a crying session, why not call a friend to provide emotional support? If your friend is in a tough spot, too, they might even join you for a top-notch “misery loves company” hangout. You can get the snacks, they can bring tissues, and you both cry to your hearts’ content.
When people feel overwhelmed to the point of needing to cry, they may try to manage their mood by talking to their loved ones. However, they rarely invite them to witness a good, self-pitying sob. Most of us see crying as an incredibly private, vulnerable, maybe even weak moment. But that’s exactly what makes it such a good opportunity for bonding with your loved ones.
Some research has pointed to the fact that crying with a loved one can improve our mood more than crying alone. It might even improve your relationship with the person whose shoulder you’re soaking. After all, friends who sob together, stay together, right?
7. Let’s Get Physical
On the other hand, if you need to make yourself cry for reasons other than emotional catharsis, you could induce tears by triggering a reflex. You can use physical irritants like menthol, tobacco smoke, or the fumes that result from cutting onions. Even dry air is enough to trigger a reaction in some people. However, if your eyes start tearing up without a clear culprit, airborne allergens and pollution are the more likely explanation.
On the other hand, your eyes may also tear up and redden if you have a foreign object in them. But you’re probably familiar with the feeling you get when an insect or some dust enters your eye. You don’t want to do that on purpose.
But why would anyone even want to elicit a reflex cry if it wouldn’t make them feel better? At least emotional tears have a purpose — which we’ll get into later. Well, I imagine there could be several valid reasons for it. For example, you may need to flush something, like an eyelash or sand particles, out of your eye.
Alternatively, you may be an actor doing a scene that calls for waterworks. In that case, I’d say that thinking of a dreadfully sad situation would be your best bet. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly tell when someone is tearing up because they’re shining a light in their eyes, as opposed to weeping over a tragic memory.
Still, if you’re in a bind, you could induce reflex tears by using one of the physical irritants I’ve mentioned. But don’t hurt yourself trying to get those tears out — exercise caution and common sense.
8. Begin the Wind-Down
Even when I need to cry, I know that I definitely shouldn’t indulge in my sorrow for too long. After all, the longer you cry, the more exhausted you’ll feel afterward, so it’s best to wrap it up quickly. I know — that sounds absurd. After doing all of this to get ourselves in the right headspace for crying, how are we supposed to stop after a few minutes?
Well, if you miss your stopping window, you might end up crying for much longer than the recommended and beneficial amount of time. The effort you expend to cry can be so physically taxing that you could even make yourself vomit. Suffice it to say, you’ll want to hit the breaks before it gets to that point.
Fortunately, there are several ways to bring yourself back to reality. First, start taking deep breaths and work on relaxing your body and face. Some people say that pressing your tongue up against the roof of your mouth could do the trick. And, of course, you could splash cold water against your face to literally and figuratively wash the tears away.
Now, it’s only natural to feel a bit raw after releasing all of your pent-up emotions. So a bit of aftercare may be in order. Whether that consists of closing the blinds and hitting the hay or eating a bucket of ice cream and watching a feel-good movie is completely up to you. After you’ve calmed down a bit, you could also write down some of the insights your breakdown might have helped you gain.
The Benefits of Emotional Crying
At this point, you know how to make yourself cry and how to stop, but you’re probably wondering why you’d want to go through all that, anyway. If your only idea of crying is linked to going through a negative experience, you may not want to get yourself into that emotional state.
And for what it’s worth, some studies suggest that the therapeutic effects of crying have been blown out of proportion. But before we discuss those, let’s talk about the purported benefits of having a good cry, starting with the most obvious ones.
Crying Can Improve Your Mood
Most of the research about crying in children and adults suggests that it is a self-soothing behavior. That means we often cry to calm ourselves down or relieve tension. In fact, many studies have pointed out that crying helps us release hormones like oxytocin and endorphins, which help us regulate our mood and relieve physical pain.
But in order to reap the rewards of crying, you have to make sure you’re shedding true, emotional tears. After all, they contain various stress hormones, so they’re chemically different than the reflex tears I mentioned earlier. So in addition to receiving so-called feel-good hormones, you’d also be flushing out ones that cause distress.
It’s no wonder that I tend to feel so overwhelmed and anxious when I need to cry. All of those feelings are just piling up, waiting to be unleashed. And the harder you cry, the better you’ll feel. According to a 2011 study, light crying simply won’t do, since it usually signifies that the person is trying to suppress their emotions, which is stressful in and of itself.
It’s Great for Your Eyes
On the other hand, there are some benefits to shedding reflex tears as well. After all, they help us get rid of any contaminants that have found their way into our eyes. They even have antimicrobial properties.
Now, remember how I said that many people will start tearing up because of dry air? That’s because our vision tends to suffer when our eyes become dry. That doesn’t happen too often, since blinking coats our eyes in basal tears. However, if you keep your eyes open for long enough, they will dry out, making your glands work overtime to keep them moist.
Conversely, some scientists have also noted that crying isn’t universally helpful. Some people find that it drags them into greater depths. Obviously, I’m not one of them — if I feel like I need to cry, I’ll just go ahead and do it. But ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference — so why not try it out for yourself?
Give In to the Catharsis
If, after all of this, you still feel uncomfortable with letting it all out, consider where your hesitation is coming from. After all, as we have discussed, crying is a uniquely human reaction to pretty much any emotion. So the only reason why you might be holding yourself back is the fear of what people might think of you.
So don’t listen to what others have to say about who’s allowed to cry and when. Men aren’t weak for showing emotion, and women aren’t overly-emotional for having a good sob, either! So warm up and get weeping! You can be sure that the next time I need to cry, I’ll do so fearlessly!