By Angelina Zervos
I love to cry. Seriously. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t enjoy the act of someone (or something, like a term paper) making me cry by insulting me, hurting my feelings, or just generally making me feel shitty. However, I do love the physical act of crying, and I believe it’s one of the best forms of self-care.
The other day I let out a kind of cry that I hadn’t in a very long time. It was very ugly: boogers, deep breaths, that weird choking sound, all the good stuff. Despite going into the cry feeling desperate and hopeless, by the end, I honestly could say I felt almost 100% better. There’s something about letting all of your guards down, becoming completely vulnerable, and just letting your body take over the process of dealing with your emotions. It’s kind of scary, I’ll admit. Sometimes I let out a horror-movie type scream or groan, and I’m like … wait, was that me? I can do that? I didn’t mean to, but I did. It’s honestly quite awesome.
Growing up, if I ever got hurt or embarrassed, my mom would tell me to cry, even if I didn’t want to. Of course, I always wanted to, but it’s not cool to cry in middle school, so I would literally hold back my tears until I gave myself a headache. And I did this for most of my life. I would reserve crying for only my deepest, darkest moments, when I knew I could be by myself for a period of time, and just let it out. But these weren’t quality cries. Maybe I would give myself a couple of minutes to gently weep, then scroll through Vine for a bit (tbt), then cry some more, and then deal with the rest another time. There was no climax, no resolution! This meant I would actually end up crying a lot more and end up being sadder. The first time I realized I needed to cry when I felt like crying instead of bottling it up and facing it later was this one time in high school when I was by myself in Manhattan on my way to meet some friends, and my phone died. I had no idea how to contact them, so I went into a local police station to see if I could charge my phone. Long story short, I was politely yelled at for crossing a line I wasn’t supposed to in the station (so dumb!) and got super startled and embarrassed. Once my phone got to 5% battery, I found out where my friends were and booked it out of there as fast as I could. I held back tears to the point where my face was bright red and my vision was blurry. Once found my friends, I cried right there on the spot in the middle of a busy New York City street. It was so cathartic that I still remember what I felt at that exact moment despite it happening more than five years ago! I want everyone to experience that, so here are some of my tips to get the most out of your cries.
The basics. Cry when you have to cry. Don’t hold it in unless you 1000% have to like if you’re in a situation you deem unsafe for you to cry in. I know some friends like to schedule a time of the week where they set aside some time to completely wind down and feel all their emotions – not my cup of tea, but if that works for you, do it! But don’t bottle up your emotions and wait for an emotional breakdown to let it all out.
The technique. I personally believe that a good cry can only occur when you are undistracted and unrestrained. I know that leaving yourself alone with your thoughts can be daunting, but I find that truly allowing yourself to analyze what you’re feeling can only be achieved when you separate yourself from your surroundings: no T.V., no scrolling through Instagram to further destroy your self-esteem, just you, your thoughts, and your tears. I think music is cool, but it can be distracting for some. This may mean you need to be alone, especially if you think you’ll be self-conscious of the way you look or act during a cry (which you shouldn’t worry about – but you’re valid!). I have also cried in group settings…back when I was in a youth group (like, imagine a bunch of teenagers in a church basement crying together, Midsommer style), and that has also worked for me.
The Physical. Something magical happens after a good cry. My sinuses clear, my cheeks and lips have color, my eyes are wide and damp, I feel like a cherub in a painting! Other than the aesthetics, crying is just plain ole good for you. Crying releases endorphins and oxytocin, which are chemicals that make you feel good!! Crying FTW!
I know crying doesn’t solve life’s problems, and the reason we feel emotionally pained is extremely nuanced. However, I think we need to start treating crying with more respect, as a natural human function, as an art form. For too long, crying has been viewed as a sign of weakness, but in reality, I think it’s one of the most badass things our bodies can do! So, go ahead, bawl your eyes out ❤ (this message had not been approved by the FDA or any legitimate entity).