The next time you feel moved to tears during a movie, go ahead and let them flow: they indicate that you are a strong person.
People who tend to cry during movies have a strong quality that many have yet to cultivate: it’s called empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s being able to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from his or her point of view, rather than from one’s own. Empathy encourages prosocial and compassionate behaviors that come from within, causing people to be kinder in their daily lives. Having empathy means that a person is strong enough to be strong for others.
Feeling empathy while watching movies also releases the neurotransmitter oxytocin into the body system. “What we know is that oxytocin makes us more sensitive to social cues around us. In many situations, social cues motivate us to engage to help others, particularly if the other person seems to need our help.” Paul J Zak, Ph.D., director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University explains. “My lab pioneered the behavioral study of oxytocin and has proven that when the brain synthesizes oxytocin, people are more trustworthy, generous, charitable, and compassionate. I have dubbed oxytocin the ‘moral molecule,’ and others call it the love hormone.”
Surveys have shown that roughly 92% of all movie viewers have cried at some point while watching a movie, so if you’re one of the strong people who lets the tears flow during beautiful or sad moments in movies, know that you’re not alone.
It takes a lot of strength to show one’s feelings, and the only ones, if any, who make fun of crying during movies tend to be those who are not in touch with their own personal feelings. Emotionally intelligent people who have spent time learning about, healing, and consciously choosing the feelings that they feel and experience each day have no problem letting the tears flow when they feel moved to; without shame and without fear.
Research on tears has shown that crying actually is good for you.
Researchers have found that crying has many benefits, both for our eyes and for our emotional health. While pre-science generations considered shedding tears to be a sign of weakness, researchers say it is actually a highly evolved behavior and a cathartic experience.
Dr. William H. Frey II, Neuroscientist, co-director and founder of the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, has spent more than 20 years studying crying and tears and he shares his thoughts on the benefits of the natural human behavior of crying:
According to Frey, “Crying is not only a human response to sorrow and frustration, it’s a healthy one.” It is the body’s way of reducing stress, which if left unchecked, can have negative effects on the body, including greater risk of heart disease, ulcers, and stress headaches, along with other stress induced disorders. In addition to the physical benefits of crying for the body, research has found that 73% of men and 85% of women feel better after letting their tears out.
From a physical standpoint, tears are necessary for strong vision; keeping the eyes lubricated and protecting them from irritants such as dust and dirt. There are actually three different kinds of tears, and each type of tear contains a different combination of water, fats, sugars and proteins:
This is the liquid constantly present in the eye, which ensures that the cornea is always wet and nourished. The cornea is dependent upon the tear film for its oxygen supply because it has no blood vessels. A thin layer of liquid also smoothes out irregularities
and creates an even surface for good optical quality, which is re-formed every time you blink and the eye is literally washed when you blink, helping ward off bacteria. Basal tears also act as a lubricant to limit the impact of friction on the eye caused by movement of the eyelid. These are the tears we notice if we’re out in the bitter cold and the eye needs more moisture.
These tears are essentially the same as basal tears, but result in response to a sudden external stimulus. These are the tears that occur from getting dust or an eyelash in the eye, or by peeling an onion. Reflex tears are there to protect the eye by washing it out.
Tears brought about by emotion such as grief, pain, or happiness, have a different chemical make-up than to those of basal or reflex tears in that they have more protein. High level of emotions trigger the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic system (the part of the body that acts as an unconscious control system), and causes the glands near the eyes to produce tears. During emotional tears, we are actually excreting stress hormones and toxins in the tears, and researchers point to this as the reason why we feel calmer and less emotional afterwards. It’s quite a healthy experience for our emotional state and for the body.
When you have a good “emotional cry” and release stress hormones there are several benefits. Here are the top five:
1. It Relieves Stress
Chronic stress can increase one’s risk for cardiovascular damage, impact certain areas of the brain, contribute to ulcers, and cause headaches or migraines, among other health issues. “Humans’ ability to cry has survival value,” Frey states.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
Crying has been found to slow pulse rates and decrease blood pressure in therapy sessions in which patients vented and cried. Left unchecked, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and the heart, potentially leading to heart failure, stroke, or even dementia.
3. Tears Remove Toxins
According to Frey, crying removes stress hormones and toxins from the body. Tears help humans eliminate chemicals like cortisol that build up during emotional stress and can wreak havoc on the body. Crying provides us with a great emotional release.
4. Crying Reduces Manganese
The act of shedding tears also reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in significantly greater concentrations in tears than in blood serum. Elevated levels can be associated with irritability, anxiety and aggression.
5. Crying Keeps Us Emotionally Strong
Crying acknowledges the emotions one is experiencing, and evolutionarily these feelings motivate us to empathize and work together as humans to best survive. In fact, crying serves an important social function. It helps communicate the strength and nature of relationships, elicits sympathy and draws individuals closer to one another.
Those who cry during movies are actually the strongest people of all, as they are compassionate people filled with empathy and love towards their fellow human beings. They engage in an action which is healthy for the body, releases toxins and stress hormones, and have a healthy level of emotional intelligence.
So the next time you’re feeling moved to tears during a movie, let them flow. They’re just a sign of what a wonderful, healthy and strong person you are.
Do you cry during movies?
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You are Loved.