Crying for Health

Gideon Van Der Stelt, via Flickr

Bruce Gulland and Marina Santee look at crying. Why do people cry? Is it helpful?

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Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Bruce Gulland.

Voice 2

And I'm Marina Santee. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

A group of businessmen enter a room in the Japanese city of Tokyo. They are coming here after working all day. Each man finds a place to sit. Soon, a film starts to play. It is a very sad story. One man starts to cry. Then another. And another. This is why these men have come to this group. They have gathered for one reason - to cry together!

Voice 2

Today's Spotlight is on crying. Most people cry at some time in their lives. But why do people cry and is it helpful?

Voice 1

Scientists say there are three different kinds of tears - basal tears, reflex tears and emotional tears. Basal tears keep our eyes wet. These tears are always on our eyes. Basal tears keep our eyes from getting too dry. They help our eyelids move. And they help our eyes fight diseases.

Voice 2

Reflex tears happen when an irritant or foreign particle enters our eye. These tears are extra tears. They help to clean the eye - removing dirt, dust and other bad things.

Voice 1

But usually, when people talk about crying, they are talking about crying emotional tears. Many emotions make people cry - including joy, sadness, anger, conflict, regret, failure and success. People also cry emotional tears when they experience physical pain. Doctors do not know exactly why our emotions and physical pain produce tears. Many people have studied it. But there are no clear answers to this question.

Voice 2

One idea is that crying protects the body. When a person feels strong emotions, the body produces particular substances like proteins, hormones and other chemicals. These substances cause many different effects - including a tense body and a faster heart rate. Emotional tears contain larger amounts of these substances than other kinds of tears. So emotional crying may remove some of these substances from the body. Some people talk about feeling better after having 'a good cry'. This process may be why crying can help people feel better.

Voice 1

Crying can be good for our emotions and for our health. But some people have a difficult time crying. This is the reason for the crying club - the group from the beginning of today's program. Crying clubs started in Japan, but there are now also clubs in United Kingdom. The idea of crying clubs is for people to gather together to help each other cry. Some clubs watch sad films or listen to sad music. In a crying club in London, members cut up onions. The strong smell from these vegetables makes their eyes water. People sit together with tears rolling down their faces. Do cry clubs help people release their emotions and be more healthy? Scientists do not know for sure. But what they do know is that crying for different reasons has different results.

Voice 2

A study published in 2008 looked at these results. People in the study reported how they felt after they cried. Some crying made people feel better - for example, crying for happiness. But in some sad situations, crying also made people feel better. This was true when people cried about problems in their own lives - especially things they felt they could change. But people felt worse if they felt they could not change things. For example, if someone else had hurt the crying person, crying often made them feel worse.

Voice 1

Crying is also cultural. People in some cultures cry much more often than people in other cultures. For example, studies show that people in America and Italy cry far more often than people in China or Ghana. In some cultures, people easily cry in public. But in other cultures, crying causes people to feel shame. So, crying is something a person will only do in private.

Voice 2

In the United Kingdom people talk about having a 'stiff upper lip'. Often, a person's mouth will shake just before they begin to cry. This British saying means that the person holds his mouth very still. He refuses to cry even when he is feeling very unhappy.

Historians believe this custom and saying developed during the twentieth century. During World War One and World War Two, life in Britain was very difficult. Many people were dying. People in Britain also had limited food and other materials. People knew they had to be strong. So they tried hard not to show their emotions. They felt it helped them to continue living, even when everything around them was very bad.

Voice 1

But there are some times when people cannot help crying. For example, it is rare to be at a funeral where there are no tears. But the right behaviour at a funeral in one culture may be wrong behaviour in another culture. In Fiji you must not cry until after the body of the dead person has been buried. In Britain people can cry anytime during a funeral. But they usually try to be very quiet and still when they do it. They try to avoid being noticed. And in Iran the correct behaviour is to cry loudly and openly. In fact, a group of people are paid to begin the crying. This makes it easier for the rest of the people mourning to cry.

Voice 2

But as many people know, people do not just cry when they are sad. They also cry from happiness. For example, there are often many tears when two people get married! This is not usually because of regret. Instead, people are happy to celebrate such a good event. And scientific study shows that crying from happiness results is a person becoming even happier!

Voice 1

The Christian Bible has a saying about crying. It says that people should show love by crying with people who are crying and laughing with people who are laughing. By doing this, people can honor both the pain and joy of people around them. Crying with a supportive person can make a person feel even better.

Voice 2

Do you ever cry with people you know? What does your culture believe about crying? Do you think crying can really make you more healthy? Tell us what you think on our website at

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Joy Smith. The producer was Luke Haley. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, 'Crying for Health'.

Voice 2

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Do you think crying is a healthy thing to do or a harmful thing to do? Have you ever had a good cry?


Avatar Spotlight
said on June 21, 2011

Hello, hey everybody and good evening all people in the beautiful world. Hmmm never think about this theme but was interesting read this article. And again thanks all authors who worked above this program. I haven’t add anything also have i nice day all)))

humble71's avatar
said on June 21, 2011

It’s something interesting how there are crying british clubs.. I’ve never cried join to someone in difficult or happy moments. I’ve cried when I felt love for a woman , real love , and my tears were because I knew that the happiness was not for always , I knew that moment will end.
  I think crying can help people to reduce anxiety but not all the time. In my country when someone is crying it means that the person is weak or is a woman. Generally men don’t cry for nothing , the man is the support of the family and braveheart member of the family.
  Thanks for sharing ideas and customs around the world . I didn’t know about this topic if it is not for you.

Thanks for sharing and to produce so valuable radio programs.
Good bye,

Avatar Spotlight
said on June 24, 2011

Hmmmmm, I don’t remember, when did I cry last time. Ohhh it is few days ago when I was cleaning and cleaving onion. Maybe crying is help some people for quieten. But I can say one thing, I don’t quieten when I cleaving onion.

Avatar Spotlight
said on June 25, 2011

About me, i cried about 3 months ago when i let my foot on Korea land. it was difficult time for me in a strange country. of course, I’ve known about Korea from Korean film, Korean food, Korean music bands. but, it was a very strange feeling when i came here, Korean. i can speak and listen to English, but not good. Also, Korean speaks English so difficult to listen. i didn’t understand what they did speak, also they did not understand what i did speak. So it was very difficult to communicate each other. All what we could do were body languages to express what we wanted to say. Only 1 day after, i went to restroom, i sit and started crying, crying loudly and in long time. But then i felt much better,i felt i had new dynamics to survive in this country.i thought that i had to adapt with new environment, with new friend, new food, new strange things here. So, i think, crying is also good action of human to give us stronger and dynamics for new beginning.

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said on June 26, 2011

Crying is one of reflex of human emotion against bad or surprising or emotional situation. As a women, I also use this effective tool to ease my pain or fell better.  But I always cry silently in the dark when I get trouble cause tears make people seem to be weaker and more childish. The most important thing I recognize that people who cry with me. When I share my feelings with my husband or my friend, it take easy any problem. So trying to find someone to share what’ happened is a good method. Life is series of experiences, it’s so lucky for me to find out my lover to share everything….

Avatar Spotlight
Blue Lotus
said on July 04, 2012

I like crying. It makes me feel better!

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said on July 04, 2012

when I cry is a relax

Nina Madeira's avatar
Nina Madeira
said on April 17, 2015

When i cry, It makes me feel better!

Avatar Spotlight
said on May 11, 2015

Surely, crying emotional tears is helpful because of releasing psychical pressure just as crying can help decrease feeling of sadness or depression and even the physical pain. This expression of our emotions has also the important health effects and that is why people shouldn’t neither defend from emotional crying at all events nor be ashamed of it. Most of people regard crying in front of others as the inconvenient behaviour, that simply depends on view of each of us…

Avatar Spotlight
said on May 19, 2015

In my case, Crying normally makes me feel more hurted and worse mood. Just like the reason shown in the program, i see i can not change anything. And i never wanns burst into tears in the crowd and also rarely cry loudly.

Anyway, crying makes me better in some ways. And i think people should not hide their tears inside. It is just one way to express our emotions and make us be humans.

Avatar Spotlight
said on March 21, 2016

I really feel the need to cry, but I do not know why I can not, I have a feeling that spiritual people, often cry more than secularists ! Am i right ??

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on October 18, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Tuesday 18, October 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Marina Santee, Joy Smith, Bruce Gulland, and Luke Haley:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!

Yes, I do. When someone cry the person’s eyes release some substance in which clean the eyes. Also, this action releases bad emotions from the mind.
No, I have not. I had bad cry because I cried about loss.
So, I cried many times because I lost many people who I loved them and other people I liked them and respected them.
The first one was grandmother. So, she died a long time ago.
The second one was grandfather. Also he died a log time ago.
The third one was my father.
And the last one was Eduardo Henrique Accioly Campos who was born on August 10, 1965 in Recife Pernambuco.
He was a honest, great, work, respectful man and na excellent politician of Pernambuco.
He would be our President. And I am sure that he would have won the election to become our President with 99% of the valid votes. 
On August 14, 2014 when he was flying on Santos coast of the São Paulo city in his aircraft together with his friends to do a political speech because he would be our President . But, unfortunately his plane fell down on many building.
I am sorry to tell you that but I cried so much because he was a noble man and he did not deserve to die in that situation.
I know that nobody deserves to die in that situation but Eduardo Campos was a God to Pernambuco people.
Therefore, that noble man Eduardo Campos, deserved all our respect to cry for him.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
Mai Hoai Tien
said on October 30, 2016

Hi guys and admin,

i’m practicing listen this listening. glad to verify between voice and transcript:
-In transcipt: “Reflex tears [RESULT] when an irritant or foreign particle enters our eye. These tears are extra tears. They help to clean the eye - removing dirt, dust and other bad things.”
-in voice: “Reflex tears [HAPPEN] when an irritant or foreign particle enters our eye. These tears are extra tears. They help to clean the eye - removing dirt, dust and other bad things.”

so please verify and repair them. thank so much.


Avatar Spotlight
said on May 10, 2019

I ever cry for emotion or for compassion. If my team wins a match against our rivals, probably I will be so happy that a few tears drop from my eyes. When I see people crying in a religious ceremony, I will usually be touched for the faith demonstration (I don’t have any faith) and some tears of compassion roll on my face.

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said on May 13, 2019

Crying do make me feel better. Thank God for this blessing. It is the only way i could relies my stress and bad feelings. Thank you. Keep up the great work. God bless

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Lan Can
said on June 22, 2019

I often cry when I read sad stories. If after a long time, I cannot cry, I will be woried. What is happening with me? Where is my emotion? And I will find some books to read and to cry. There are some books make me cry again and again although I read them again and again. They are Uncle Tom’s cabin, Heart and Les miserables. With me, tears mean I still have full of love, full of feeling and romance.
To be honest, I think crying is only a private emotion. If I see a group of people are slicing onion and crying, I cannot bear laughing.