Cry me a river

As someone who has always cried at the drop of a hat, finding out that shedding tears is actually healthy brought a tear to my eye. :)  I can clearly hear my wonderful mom's voice in my head saying "a good cry will do you good honey".  Little did I know just how true that would be become!

There are actually a number of very therapeutic aspects to shedding a tear or two:

1) Stress reduction:  Without getting too technical the act of crying actually releases certain chemicals that lower stress levels.  Crying helps to remove certain stress related chemicals and hormones that build up in our bodies due to stress.  Comparing shedding tears to shedding sweat when we exercise the same process occurs. Exercising also relieves stress and removes built up chemicals in the body. However, conversely, if you "hold back the tears" you may increase your stress levels resulting in potentially harmful health issues like increased blood pressure.

2) Mood stabilization: Because crying is an emotional response to some trigger it means that when tears are shed the endocrine system releases endorphins (often known as feel good hormones) that stabilize your mood.  So when we cry we are allowing our bodies the chance to calm down and stabilize.

3) Cold and Flu prevention: The fact is that tears are natural antibacterial and antiviral solutions that work hard to fight the germs that like to attack our eyes. The chemical lysozyme in tears is capable of killing up to 95% of all bacteria in a matter of minutes. Just as our nose hairs collect bacteria and germs, our eyes have tears to prevent us from getting sick.

4) Detoxing our bodies: Studies showed that tears formed as a result of emotional distress or grief have more toxic byproducts in them than tears of irritation (from itching or onion peeling for instance). What that means is emotional tears, tears from stress, are capable of removing wastes and toxins from our body.

5) Lubrication: For many folks (myself included) dryness of the eyes, ears, mouth, etc is often a secondary condition and even can be an early sign of RA.  If formally diagnosed it is called Sjogren's Syndrome and is also autoimmune in nature and can be a real challenge to contend with along with your RA.  It creates serious issues with tear and saliva production. One of the most critical functions of tears is that they literally enables us to see. Tears moisten our eyes and prevent dehydration of the membranes surrounding the eyeball.  Without that lubrication that tears provide our vision might very well deteriorate.  There are prescription eye lubricants that you doctor can prescribe or, as in my case, he may suggest an over the counter lubricant that will work just fine.

Certainly over the course of my nearly 20 years with RA, I have had many occasions to shed a tear or two! Since learning all about tears I have come to appreciate the value of crying.  The last time I cried from pain I DID realize that the release it gave me did indeed provide some respite from the pain and sadness.  I am sure there will be more than enough opportunities to cry again.  Instead of "holding them back" I will let them flow freely knowing that they are yet another therapeutic tool to manage RA!

The fact is tears are truly one of the miracles of the human body that serve a significant and demonstrated purpose for all of us!

So go watch a great "tearjerker" movie and appreciate the benefits of tears!

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