By Stephanie Elliot

Confession: I have cried twice today already. I’m a mom to three young adult children and some of them are currently struggling. There have been lots of tears in this house lately. In the past two months, I have comforted each child during emotional crying episodes. My two boys, ages 21 and 18, might seem too old to cry.But they do. Openly and without reservation, they cry to me when they are feeling sad, anxious, upset, angry or stressed.

Crying is good for you. Keeping those types of emotions inside only build until something worse may happen. My daughter, my middle child, is a huge advocate of crying. One day, after an emotional crying session, I asked her if she was okay. She said sheimmediately felt better. “Mom,” she said, as she dried her eyes, “If I’m crying, it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of me healing.”

These words have stayed with me. That she’s healing.

Medical News Today agrees that crying is therapeutic and lists some pretty amazing benefits to crying. According to a 2014 study by the National Institute of Health, crying is self-soothing. “Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which helps people relax,” the report states.

When you cry, others are alerted that you are upset and that you may need support or comfort. Think about the last time you saw someone cry or the last time you cried. Most people nearby will immediately move to offer comfort, whether it be a hug, a tissue, or an “I love you and I’m sorry that you’re hurting.”When you cry, endorphins and oxytocin are released and you’ll almost always feel a little bit better. Once the crying is over, there is a relief from the stress that was felt before the tears came. Again, this is because the chemicals are being released from your body. Which is exactly what my daughter means when she says that crying makes her heal. There is a healing power from crying.

Some other benefits to crying, which you may not have even considered, are that crying usually makes a person tired, so it can make for better sleep. Crying tears also releases bacteria in your tear ducts which help to keep infections away from your eyes. And finally, believe it or not, crying can improve your vision. Think of it like your car’s windshield wipers – you wash away the dirt with the wipers. It’s practically the same thing!

So, next time you feel like you need a good cry, don’t be embarrassed, don’t be ashamed. Cry your heart out. Release those feelings, whether you’re angry, sad, stressed, scared or just feeling emotional. With so many benefits to having a cry, you’ll hopefully feel better in no time!