How to Make Yourself Cry to Relieve Stress

Updated May 17, 2022
Portrait of a sad young woman with a braid, crying

From infancy through adulthood, crying serves an important purpose. Aside from eliciting a caretaking response in others, crying can help you physically and emotionally release tension and stress.

Often, crying happens spontaneously. And sometimes, it happens despite a strong desire not to cry. But there may be other times when you want to cry and the tears just won't come. So how can you make yourself cry? There are a few techniques you can use to get the tears flowing.

How to Make Yourself Cry

A stress-reducing cry can be a cathartic experience that helps you process an intense situation. In order to get to that vulnerable state, you will need to tap into your emotions and connect with your body. It's not always easy for people to allow themselves to cry, even if they want to. Learning how to cry can give you the option to cry when you feel you need that release.

Set the Mood

Before trying to make yourself cry in order to relieve stress, it can be helpful to set the stage by going into a private room. It may also be helpful to have the lights off or have the room softly lit. Having a safe space to cry in, such as a chair or bed, may help you feel more comfortable.

Think About Stress

Bringing up the memory of a particular person, event or situation may be enough to make you cry. Reflect on the challenges you have faced that have caused you to feel stressed and overwhelmed. While taking deep breaths, think about the most painful image or snapshot from the particular scenario. See what emotions come up and where you feel them in your body. Then allow yourself to fully let go.

Look at Photos

Reminding yourself of special moments and people from the past is one way of helping you get in touch with your emotions. You might reminisce by looking at pictures of family members and friends who have passed away, people that you have lost touch with over the years, or loved ones that mean the most to you. These pictures might represent sad memories, but they can also remind you of poignant or sentimental moments that bring tears to your eyes.

Listen to Voicemails

Many people have saved voicemails on their phones that are meaningful. Sometimes these messages are from people you love who express how much they miss you. The voicemail may even be from a person who has since passed away. Listening to the sound of someone's voice can help you get in touch with your emotions and can help make you cry.

Read Letters

Reading through old letters is one way of reconnecting with the past and the memories it holds. You might find letters that were written between yourself and others or even letters that were written between other members of your family. If you don't have letters, read through old text messages from people you care about whether the conversations were happy or sad.

Look in the Mirror

Reflection of worried woman on hand mirror at home

It's often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. So seeing yourself sad or stressed may help you connect to your inner feelings. Using a mirror will allow you to see your emotions by reflecting them back to you. This process can also help you focus on how you feel in the present moment. Simply sit with yourself and see how your body expresses internal emotions. You may feel silly at first, and that's okay, but if you allow yourself to sit and look, you may also help yourself feel.

How to Cry Without Feeling Overwhelmed

In some cases, the experience of crying can make you feel worse, not better. If at any point during the exercise you feel overwhelmed and would like to stop, know that it is perfectly normal and okay. Strategies to help yourself stop crying include:

  • Bring up a peaceful image or a pleasant memory that makes you feel calm.
  • Take ten slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Try progressive muscle relaxation to get in touch with your body.
  • Remind yourself that what you are feeling is normal and that you can come back to the stressful memory at another time.
  • Take a walk and get some fresh air.
  • Call a trusted family member or friend.
  • Listen to a guided imagery podcast or watch a guided imagery video.

How Crying Releases Stress

People often push their emotions aside and opt to feel nothing rather than face stress or emotional pain head-on. However, suppressing your feelings can impact your health. In fact, one study even suggests that long-term emotional suppression can affect your mortality.

But research has documented that crying to relieve stress can be highly beneficial for individuals. Crying when under stress can relieve tension. There are several reasons for this:

  • The act of crying has been directly linked to the release of oxytocin, which may lead to an enhanced mood.
  • When you cry, your body also releases endorphins, which can help to improve your mood.
  • Crying can contribute to creating a self-soothing atmosphere because of its rhythmic pattern.

The composition of tears shed when someone is stressed out is also different from tearing up because of a reflex response. Emotional tears are made up of stress hormones, and when you cry, your body physically releases them out of your system.

Why Learn How to Cry?

Stress may not be the only reason why you want to embrace emotional release through crying. For instance, actors need to know how to cry on command for roles that involve stress or heartache. And since tears protect the eye from elements like wind, dust, or other particles you might start to cry to relieve irritation.

Some other reasons that people learn how to cry include:

  • You want to reconnect with your emotions and get in touch with yourself.
  • You haven't checked in with your own needs in a while.
  • You haven't allowed yourself to properly grieve something.
  • You are exhausted from keeping up with life's demands.

Learning how to get a good stress-relieving cry can feel awkward for some people at first. Be patient and take it slow. Remember that many adults were taught during their childhood that crying is a sign of weakness and therefore unacceptable. If you experienced this, allowing yourself to cry and let go might be more challenging. Continue to practice tapping into your emotions and you will experience success. It won't be long before you will be able to reap the stress reduction benefits associated with crying.

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