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I stayed in last night, content to tidy away Christmas, put it back into it’s box. As I wrapped, packed and stowed I listened to music and drank a glass of deep red wine. But my flighty mind got distracted by hidden thoughts and forgotten memories and suddenly a silent tear fell.

I had to stop and take a moment to figure out why, without any warning, a wave of sadness had washed over me. As the tear rolled down my cheek a second followed, then a third and in a jingle-bells a steady stream of tears was escaping from my eyes.

Emotions are tricky things and while I tried to figure out what it was that I was actually feeling I discovered a plethora of loneliness, missing my dad, frustration over not achieving my goals, lost hopes and dreams. But as the tears flowed I slowly felt better and I remembered what I knew about tears.

Tears are quite wonderful drops of water as there are three different kinds: reflex, continuous and emotional. Reflex tears are the kind that clears out any little particles that may distract or obscure our view. Continuous ones are produce in an endless stream to lubricate our eyes and even nose.

Now while reflex tears are made up out of 98% of water and continuous ones contain lysozyme, an enzyme that breaks down bacterial cells, an anti-bacterial fluid that protects our eyes and nose from infections, emotional tears actually contains stress hormones.

This means that when ever we are sad,angry, stressed, afraid or any other emotional state that causes tears to well up in our eyes, we are shedding stress hormones and other toxins. In addition to this crying stimulates our endorphin (feel-good hormones) production.

Crying is good for us,  tears help us heal and allow our body to get rid of hormones that disrupt our inner equilibrium. Tears heal the heart and body and allow us to bypass depression. So while tears can’t fix a situation they help us calm down, our breathing and hearth-rate slows down when the tears subside, leaving our hearts soothed and more at peace.

A few silent tears shed late at night may have left me red-faced, snot-nosed and a little breathless but hopefully also a little bit more capable to tackle what the future holds.  But whatever may happen I wholeheartedly agree with Antonie de Saint-Exupery

It is a secret place the land of tears

More tearful information:  Biological Role of Emotional tears (NY Times), The Health Benefits of Tears (Psychology Today),