One of the best ways to release anxiety, frustration, or stress is to cry. Everyone needs to let it out once in a while, and there is definitely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can actually be good for you. But there are times when you have a box of tissues and are ready to go, but the tears just won’t come. At these times, you may want to know how to make yourself cry because allowing yourself to do that is so important.
Crying can help you move through the stress cycle and release stress, says Olga Karasina, PsyD, of Midwest Counseling. “Not having any release when we are feeling strong emotions is akin to trying to keep a beach ball underwater, it is exhausting and eventually will come up and in a much more unpredictable and undesirable manner,” she adds.
Crying can also be a self-soothing mechanism and help free us up from emotions that we have bottled up and that are now taking up space and likely impacting us without any release, notes Karasina.
So, why do some people have trouble crying? Sometimes medical issues like dry eye syndrome, where an insufficient amount of tears are produced, and Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease characterized by dry eyes and mouth, can make it difficult for you to shed tears. Certain medications, especially antidepressants, antihistamines, birth control, and blood pressure drugs, can do the same. It may seem counterintuitive, but people with depression may not have the energy to cry even if they get the urge. You may also not be able to because you are avoiding it—you may want to escape from uncomfortable feelings and thoughts by suppressing them.
If you really need the release but can’t seem to make it happen, here are a few tips from experts to get the waterworks going.
1. Avoid Blinking
One of the easiest ways to make yourself cry is by not blinking. “Your body’s natural instinct is to blink to produce moisture and prevent any debris and dirt from lingering and risk causing an infection,” says Lena Suarez-Angelino, LCSW, of Choosing Therapy. “When you go against nature, your body will try to do everything in its power to recalibrate.”
Try staring at a blank wall for 20 to 30 seconds, or as long as you can stand. Your eyes will most likely start to burn and a tear or two will fall. If you do that *and* think about something that made you feel hurt or sad, then put on a sad song, you can most likely start crying.
2. Engage In Breathwork
“Breathwork elicits your parasympathetic nervous system and helps to bring you back into balance emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually,” notes Suarez-Angelino. “Many people report they have cried, along with other healing experiences, as a result of breathwork sessions.”
If you’re new to this practice, try the techniques on a weekly basis and allow space for yourself to implement and process the healing that may come up during these sessions.
3. Go For A Walk
Walking on a daily basis is beneficial for various reasons, but heading outside, especially without any distractions, allows you to go inward and reflect. “Reflect on things you feel you have been ignoring or sweeping under the rug. Allow them to surface and tune into your feelings and thoughts about these situations,” says Suarez-Angelino.
4. Listen To Music
Music is a great way for people to tap into their emotions. Karasina recommends putting on a song of your choice and thinking about a time that brings up emotions for you personally.
She also recommends pairing this with another activity like spending time in nature or doing yoga in your favorite outdoor space where you feel comfortable and safe. This combo may help you connect with yourself and offer you the opportunity to fully embrace your feelings in the moment.
5. Move Your Body
Working out and getting your body moving can also help shuffle any stagnant energy throughout your body to facilitate an emotional release.
“Certain poses in yoga are known to help heal trauma and process emotions, which often results in tears,” says Suarez-Angelino. “Sometimes a vigorous workout that involves hitting or punching, such as kickboxing or regular boxing can help get out some of the frustration you are experiencing, which helps break down the barrier and allow tears to flow.”
Depending on how often you exercise and the amount of pent-up emotions and tension you have, you may find yourself crying rather often initially and then less over time.
6. Read A Sad Story
Similar to listening to music, reading something sad can help bring on the tears. “Some book titles are notorious for having people repeatedly cry time and time again, regardless of the number of times they have read them,” says Suarez-Angelino.
If you think you need some practice with this method, she recommends trying it once a month, or if you feel like you need to cry more often, once a week.
7. Take A Shower
Some people need privacy to have a good cry or don’t like the feeling of tears rolling down their cheeks. If that is the case for you, try taking a shower. “Try taking a shower and use your senses to muffle the outward sounds of crying while also being able to blend the water on your face with the tears streaming down,” says Suarez-Angelino.
However, she cautions not to take too much time trying to turn on the waterworks. “You could try this every time you are in the shower for no longer than about five minutes, so as to not waste any water,” she says.
8. Talk To Someone
If you are having a hard time getting in touch with your emotions, Karasina recommends opening up and sharing your feelings with someone you trust like a family member, good friend, or partner. “A therapy session or good vulnerable talk with someone you trust can sometimes bring about feelings and allow us to have a good cry,” she adds.
She even suggests looking into group therapy or an online support group, which may offer another space to feel safe and supported to share and have the experience of crying surrounded by people who can hold space for and support this expression.
9. Write It Out
If you are upset and want to cry it out, Suarez-Angelino recommends taking out some paper and pen and writing a letter to the person or situation that is upsetting you. “Sometimes being able to write down your feelings and thoughts helps your emotions rise to the surface and make themselves known,” she says.
It is not intended to be mailed or shown to whoever is involved in the situation, but rather to allow for expression without judgment. “When you are graced with this space, the tears are more likely to come,” says Suarez-Angelino.
Another simple way to help get the tears flowing is by yawning. “Try yawning a few times in a row to wake up the tear ducts. This may be helpful to get your body to cry,” says Suarez-Angelino, but note that this method may not work for everyone.
The good news is yawning does not cause any harm if you do it too much. However, forced yawning can quickly turn into actual yawning and you may start to feel fatigued or tired.
When trying to make yourself cry, the most important thing is to not feel any pressure to cry. “Let go of the expectation that you need to have tears in order to feel. The moment you let go of the pressure of forcing yourself to have tears, you are able to take a breath and start to process your emotions,” says Suarez-Angelino.
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