Society ingrains in all of us that this sort of behaviour is age inappropriate but also an unhealthy and unproductive way of handling ourselves when upset. I’m not a parent, and I’ve never raised a child. I do know a baby cries when upset.
Children generally cry when sore, get hurt, or experience intense emotion. After the child cries, the kid typically feels, if not better, more precise, returns to baseline.
The body seems to have a system. It helps young people control their emotions without getting too dysregulated. The system seems to work because after a kid cries, the young person is usually less likely to lash out or harm someone as they return to a more regulated emotional state.
I suggest adults cry more often. I believe people don’t like to experience negative emotions because it makes them vulnerable. Family nowadays espouse values that teach people not to become too upset or emotional.
At work, people display even less emotion. HR and the culture of many work environments even recommend keeping feeling out of the workplace and never taking things’ too personal’. In my opinion, the workplace environment has become sterile, stoic, and cold. People don’t want to appear too weak or emotional.
An entire branch of psychology is devoted to emotional regulation and intelligence. Our emotional self is a big part of our mental health. Mood disorder makes up a significant portion of mental health symptoms. Depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and many other diagnoses have symptoms related to a labile mood.
These symptoms can be highly disruptive. People can use all the coping skills possible to control and manage their moods before becoming overwhelmed by emotion. When these symptoms become extreme, danger can insert itself into the picture.
Despite the issues surrounding poor mood management, society continues to push us to have the mentality that emotion is a danger of internalising gripes and negative feelings. Research suggests people benefit from processing their emotions in healthy doses, the equivalent of crying a little but not uncontrollably. Tearing up to the point of becoming inconsolable isn’t too healthy either.
Instead, the mind should work towards processing in healthy doses to regulate the self. Without limits or regulation, such a display would push the body and mind closer to entropy and chaos, not farther from it.
I cry often. When something tragic happens in my life, or I feel an extreme emotional response about an event or feeling, I let it out and cry. Now, I don’t cry for days or sob to the point of dysregulation, but you can be sure that what I’m doing is calling. I generally feel more stable after crying.
My mood is usually improved, if not levelling out, and the sharp pain of emotion turned inward isn’t jabbing into the pit of my stomach. As one of my interns put it in a treatment plan, people need to vent or ventilate.
The treatment plan targeted stabilising mood disorder. Crying lets out pain, anger, and distress. All potentially toxic feelings. These are feelings that, if left unchecked, can pollute the body and mind. Like tearing up and crying, ventilation also serves as a metaphor that captures a pressurised system and is the perfect way to handle stress.
My intern was no stranger to anxiety and knew the danger of how harmful stress is to the body. Stress also exacerbates mental health symptoms, so it must be rooted out and eliminated from the body’s ecosystem as fast as possible before doing damage.
I believe if people were more relaxed and less stressed, there would be less violence in the world. I also think people would get along better and not take to acts of transgression. Happy people are more likely to find peaceful solutions to interpersonal problems.
My schizophrenia diagnosis requires a great deal of self-care. Part of my self-care regimen is staying as relaxed as possible in the face of stress.
Like I said before, anxiety is triggering. Any mental health symptom can snowball or combine and become much more challenging to get ahead of without becoming too overwhelming. The psychotic cognitive process is fast, and people experiencing psychosis can escalate quickly when symptomatic.
Stress only speeds this unhealthy process up and makes it less safe for people to become psychotic. Crying can help slow down the psychotic process by exhaling toxic stress.
So, go ahead and cry like a baby. Please do it! Get in touch with your inner four-year-old child. There is nothing wrong with that sort of thinking; it’s a step closer to health than most behaviours. When we all start recoiling with tears and moaning, letting out the negativity through our lungs and releasing them through salty discharge, we are better for it.
People need to find more healthy and creative ways of dealing with stress,just one example. Find your ticket to wellness that works for you, and better mental health will follow.
Maxwell Guttman, LCSW teaches social work at Fordham University. He is also a mental health correspondent for Psychreg.
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