Sometimes, you just need to retreat from the world and have a bit of a cry, don’t you?
A big day in to let it all out, kinda thing.
This blanket-worthy practice is such a trusty default, I was fairly sure there must be more to the sad story.
Surely it’s not just about slippers, G&Ts and pizza with the curtains drawn, I figured. There must be proper scientific reasons that going deeper into your sads – with a hefty slathering of EVEN MORE feelings via the cast of Steel Magnolias or War and Peace – would be an often-turned-to-salve for so many, I thought.
It turns out I thought right.
There are a few very good reasons a sobby wallow in front of a film can make us feel better and it’s not just the cosy factor that makes this a solid dark-days response.
Firstly, emotionally charged dramas about relationships throw fresh light on the connections we have with our favourite people.
If we’re thoughtful viewers, these kinds of films anchor us back to the best bits of our important relationships, even when we might have been feeling that we are actually the saddest/sickest/most unloved person in the whole wide world. #PityParty #wahhh
The experts say that when we’re happy, we tend not to think as deeply about life. When we’re sad, we tend to dive in and attempt to discover/trouble-shoot whatever is going ‘wrong’.
“Positive emotions are generally a signal that everything is fine, you don’t have to worry, you don’t have to think about issues in your life,” Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, expert, sad-movie-benefit-studier and associate professor of communication at Ohio State University explains.
“But negative emotions, like sadness, make you think more critically about your situation. So seeing a tragic movie about star-crossed lovers may make you sad, but that will cause you to think more about your own close relationships and appreciate them more.”
Another reason a good sad-film-sob is helpful is because tears are helpful. Who knew?! #HelpfulTears
Research tells us that emotional tears (the kind we’d shed while watching Shelby’s sad end in Steel Magnolias, for instance) help to release toxins from our body. You can literally cry away the pesky stress hormones – like cortisol – that get us all jacked up/freaked when we’re feeling terrible. Yet crying is not just about getting it all OUT. Nope. Tears also contain chemicals that help to reduce pain endorphin-style. We’d like to keep the endorphins IN us, if you please. Yep.
There’s also some evidence that crying helps us to self-soothe and lots of evidence that crying encourages others to soothe us. I would suggest that self-soothing is totally under-rated and we should all be armed with lots of self-soothing strategies as we adventure through life…
Like a good wallow and a sad movie and a snack for instance!
Here’s ten that might get you on the self-soothing, helpful tears bandwagon:
Watch: Steel Magnolias
Eat: Red Velvet Cake/Armadillo Cake/Cake
Eat: Hershey Bars, CCs (see what I did there?!)
Eat: M&Ms, pizza, beer – OF COURSE!
Eat: Cocoa, turkey
Watch: Into The Wild
Eat: Sandwiches, corn chips
Watch: Gilmore Girls Episode 17, Season One
Eat: Pizza, coffee, chilli fries
Watch: Forrest Gump
Eat: A box of chocolates. Several, even.
Watch: Terms of Endearment
Eat: Oysters, Wild Turkey Bourbon
Watch: My Girl
Eat: Ice cream, marshmallows, Pie A La Mode
Watch: The Fault In Our Stars
Eat: Dragon Carrot Risotto, lots of asparagus, Champagne
Are you a bit of a watch and weep film buff? Do you have helpful tears?
(Please feel free to add further sniffly/snacky pairings in the comments below!)