Cry Me A River- How Crying (& Hiking) Activates Your Parasympathetic Nervous System.



This is a reminder for myself this week. I have taken on so much lately on every level and finally stopped in my tracks, called BS on my story and reset. I'd been telling my story of strength for so long that I no longer felt that I could be perceived as weak, to ask for help or simply to cry.

I've had a long standing on-off relationship with tears. My Armour that I wear into the world wouldn't allow it, but taking that Armour off, exposed and vulnerable, I chose to cry and I feel better! Tears don't mean you're weak, conversely, they show you're human capable of emotion and its a great stress response!

The suppressing of tears creates the stress response in our bodies, we are still on high alert, sweaty and tense. When we allow our self the release with a good cry it stimulates the relaxation pathways for breathing, heart rate and sweat production to return to normal. Activating the tear ducts to stimulate tears, saliva production and subsequently digestive fluids, our nervous system find balance.

When our bodies experience stress- whether emotionally or physically- the body initiates the flight or fight, survival response. Adrenals flood the body with adrenaline and cortisol which elevates heart rate induces sweat production, breathing and thoughts race, preparing our bodies to either confront or flee from the perceived threat. The sympathetic nervous system is on high alert!

Crying is one of the best ways to reset your parasympathetic nervous system. It releases the pent up negative energy and the tears, like all water, is cathartic of cleansing our energy centres.


Not all stress is bad. Sometimes we can experience positive stress; this type of stress motivates us, excites us and allows us to perform at our optimal level. The 'stress' of exercise, pushing ourselves physically and mentally to achieve a task can be incredibly rewarding.

It is under extended periods of emotional stress, anxiety and the experiences that feel out of our capabilities, that we start to experience the negative stress.

Mentally this may look like:

  • Brain fog, memory problems, racing mind

  • Tiredness