I’m not much of a cryer, but when I do, I bawl.
My face becomes red, my clothes soak from sweat, and my eyes swell shut. I am the Naomi Osaka of ugly crying.
But I don’t cry often. In fact, I usually have to plan for it. Every time the Hunger Games is on, I will cry when Rue dies. If I listen to “Breathe Me” by Sia, I will cry until the very last note. If I think about high school and how terrible it was, I’ll let out a stream of tears, uncontrollably.
Today, Forbes wrote about why we should start crying more often and its stress-relieving properties, which got me thinking: what if that’s not so easy for some of us?
Unlike actress Bryce Dallas Howard who can cry over a Home Depot offer, what if crying feels like an impossible feat? Can we ever cry on command or is it something we’re simply born with? I pulled together some tips on crying on cue for those of us who (really) need it:
Use Your Memory
The most obvious tool is to use your own memories to stimulate tears. Recall moments that make you uncomfortable, sad or even a little scared (within reason). Remember what it was like then, and if you need a trigger, try music or a smell that’ll remind you of the memory in question.
Ana Brenda Contreras, a telenovela star, told the New York Times that your childhood can often stimulate a good cry.
“‘They tell you to think about yourself as a child who has no one in the world who cares for you,’ Contreras says. ‘It is about connecting with that part of yourself that feels vulnerable and abandoned. It works, even if you had a happy childhood.’”
Yawn Yourself to Tears
When you yawn, sometimes your eyes begin to water. According to Huffington Post, this is a physiological response to pressure being put on glands around your eyes that produce tears.
As a new employee, there are a few pieces of advice you'll hear over and over again: Come in with a good attitude, offer to do extra work as often as possible, and never, ever, cry at work. But the fact is, you're human - you're going to cry. Rather than avoid it at all costs and reprimand yourself for not keeping your emotions in check, it's better to prepare for the time it happens.
In a follow-up interview on Conan, Howard said yawning is crucial for her crying technique. By yawning over and over, you’ll eventually begin to tear. Use these tears to settle into a good sob and think of emotions and memories that’ll help.
When memories don’t work, force the tears. Lightly pinch yourself, pull a nose hair, stare at a wall without blinking, or cut an onion until tears are forced. Don’t go crazy now. You just need a little trigger to get the tears flowing, and from there on, you’ll be set.
Use a Tear Stick
Actress Anna Faris shared this trick on the Late Show with James Corden: when all else fails, and you’re desperate for a good cry, go with the tear stick. Tear sticks are made of menthol, which irritates your eyes into tears. This can be rubbed just under the eye (don’t rub into directly into the eye, as you’ll actually cause way more pain than you need).
And if after all of this advice you’re still unable to cry, that’s ok, too. Some people simply find it impossible to produce tears (I’ll cry enough for the both of us). Find other ways to release pent-up emotions, like going on a run or venting to a friend. We all need an outlet and sometimes that doesn’t always involve an uncontrollable sob.