...you turn on the wa­ter­works

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS -


Hu­mans. What a bunch of soft­ies. ‘When you look at the evo­lu­tion of cry­ing, what we share with other mam­mals is a dis­tress call to con­vey a need for comfort,’ ex­plains Ad Vinger­hoets, psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor af­fil­i­ated with Til­burg Univer­sity in the Nether­lands, and an au­thor­ity on weep­ing.

‘But we dif­fer from other mam­mals in that we pro­duce tears, and in that this be­hav­iour isn’t lim­ited to in­fancy – we hu­mans con­tinue to cry through­out our lives.’


While some the­o­rists doubt the ex­is­tence of tears of joy, they’ve ob­vi­ously never watched their BFF say ‘I do’. One the­ory posited by Yale re­searchers is that happy tears are the body’s way of restor­ing emo­tional equi­lib­rium – re­spond­ing to an over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive emo­tion with a neg­a­tive one. See also: ner­vous laugh­ter.


So how does the sight of a three­legged puppy lead to panda eyes? Enter: acetyl­choline – a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter that sends a mes­sage from your brain to the lacrimal glands – lo­cated above your eye­lids – to warn that things are get­ting totes emosh. The lacrimal gland pro­duces tears, which flow into canals that con­nect to the lacrimal sac be­fore fall­ing down your cheek. Kleenex, any­one?


They don’t call it a good old cry for noth­ing. But if a weep leaves you feel­ing won­der­ful, it may not be for the rea­son you think. Back in the day, we thought tears con­tained stress hor­mones – sug­gest­ing you could

lit­er­ally cry away the pain. ‘Now, we have rea­son to doubt this,’ says Pro­fes­sor Vinger­hoets. ‘While 50% of criers will feel bet­ter af­ter­wards, we think this is down to the emo­tional sup­port they re­ceive from loved ones as a re­sult, rather than be­ing a phys­i­o­log­i­cal re­sponse.’ Snot goals, in­deed.

5 BLINK 101

Blink and you’ll miss ’em. No, re­ally. Your eyes pro­duce tears ev­ery time you blink.

Basal tears form a pro­tec­tive film on your corneas, without which your eyes would dry up. And if Long Lost Fam­ily doesn’t get them flow­ing, chop­ping onions will do it. Re­flex tears con­tain an an­tibac­te­rial agent called lysozyme, which helps kill po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous mi­crobes and wash out for­eign in­vaders like bugs or dust. Go on, cry your eyes out.

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