Always cry in the shower? There's a reason, apparently

It turns out a lot of us head to the same spot when it’s time to get all up in our feels. 74% of people regularly cry in the shower, according to new research from Showers To You. And, when we took a quick poll of the office, the consensus was that most of us let it all out when we’re in the shower, too. But why?

For lots of us, the shower may be one of the few (or only) times each day that we’re truly alone with zero distractions and with no-one else looking. That’s why, for many, it’s a key place to do some of our most intense thinking and planning. It’s the best stage for belting out a Mariah-worthy performance. But it’s also a private spot to reflect on any stresses, frustrations and disappointments.

To get to the bottom of why we cry in the shower, STY consulted Dr Amber Johnston, clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist at Healthy Mind Psychology, and counsellor Georgina Sturmer to find out all…

Why do we cry in the shower?

A non-embarrassing emotional release

“We experience all kinds of emotions all day long and we often have a need to explore or express these feelings,” explains Georgina. “Crying is a natural way for our bodies to release our pent up feelings and to calm ourselves down, yet we don’t always feel comfortable to shed tears when we need to. We might feel that our tears are inappropriate, or embarrassing, or a sign of weakness. This is often based on messages that we absorbed when we were growing up, or the expectations of society around us. So this can lead us to find a private moment when we feel that we can connect with our emotions and allow our tears to flow,” she says.

A place free from distractions

“When we are in the shower, it’s an opportunity to step away from the distractions of everyday life. In a world where we are connected 24/7, and ‘on show’ much of the time, a shower might be one of the few places where we are truly just with ourselves. This sense of privacy and connection can help us to feel comfortable to connect with our emotions,” says Georgina.

A place to release tension

“It is possible to see an exponential effect of hot showers and crying to release the tension in the body and mind, return the body to a state of greater relaxation, and foster the chemicals that help feel connected and lift mood,” explains Dr Johnston. “After this experience, a person may be in a better, relaxed state, possibly ready for sleep. Or additionally, a quick shot of cold water following the crying moments may help invigorate the body, ready to get on with the day,” she says.

Can a shower cry help?

While crying is associated with feelings of sadness, it can actually offer up benefits that can make us feel better.

It reduces cortisol

“Tears themselves can act like a detox of too much stress hormone (cortisol) or additional toxins. With the release of cortisol out of the body’s system, crying is linked to activating the parasympathetic nervous system (or the relaxation response), which is the opposite of the fight or flight response, and therefore a natural antidote to a heightened tension state,” says Dr Johnston.

It releases endorphins

Crying “releases natural endorphins which can both elevate mood or act as natural pain killers, as well as lead to a greater sense of relaxation (or maybe sleepiness) following a good cry,” explains says Dr Johnston.

It stimulates the vagus nerve

“Crying is linked to activating the parasympathetic nervous system, or the relaxation response, (mentioned above), and therefore a natural antidote to a heightened tension state,” says says Dr Johnston.

How can a shower boost mood?

Water has long been hailed for its therapeutic effect but the benefits can differ depending on the shower temperature, says Dr Johnston.

Hot shower benefits

Hot showers can help with muscle relaxation and alleviate muscle pain or tension; they can release oxytocin (a chemical for feeling better) and – particularly for hot showers – they can allow your body to cool after to a temperature conducive for sleep, letting you wind down easier, according to Dr Johnston.

Cold shower benefits

Cold showers can release dopamine, stimulating a boost of energy and attentional focus, leaving a feel-good effect. They can also release endorphins to improve mood, improve circulation and increase heart rate, reducing fatigue and inflammation – and they can help build physical and psychological resilience, Dr Johnston says.

For more from GLAMOUR’s Senior Beauty Editor, Elle Turner, follow her on Instagram @elleturneruk

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