Crying at work is much more common than you think.
Everyone has a breaking point. For some, it could come in the privacy of the office’s bathroom where the turmoil and stress from your job reduce you to tears, while others could possibly breakdown in the middle of Manhattan after suffering bad news at their job. Maybe it’s in the parking lot locked inside the car or while standing in line for a salad. What happens in the workplace isn’t always escapable.
And while no one wants to be caught crying at work, could it actually be beneficial to let your emotions out in order to relieve what triggered it afterward?
A recent survey conducted by career website Monster found that more than 8 in 10 workers admitted to crying at the office, with nearly 50% reporting that they’ve cried a few times in the office. The study, which had more than 2,000 participants, also found that motives for tears mostly fell on workers’ bosses or colleagues. More than 45% admitted that the drivers for their cry were influenced because of how they were treated by their bosses or colleagues, according to the study.
Fifteen percent said their workload at their job made them cry, while 13% reported their tears stemmed from being bullied at work. It may be uncomfortable or maybe even seen as unprofessional by some, but a good cry might also make you feel better in the long run.
Let it all out
In a study published in the journal Emotion, researchers found that crying can make you feel better. The study’s basis was whether or not nearly 200 female undergraduate students could produce tears when viewing a sad or emotional video that ran for almost 20 minutes. The participants were administered a stress test after viewing the video. Each video was randomly assigned.
Results showed that participants who cried during viewings recorded moderate heart rates with stable breathing, while non-criers, conversely, had increased marks for the same categories.
The study’s findings showed that crying can keep the body stable while regulating breathing patterns and heart rate measures.
“The major caveat with this research is that we don’t know if these reactions are typical in real-world settings where you might be crying because of grief or loss, for example, or if there are differences if someone else is present with you when you cry,” said the study’s author Leah Sharman to PsyPost.
Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. echoed the same sentiment but said there’s no reason to hold back the next time you feel like crying.
“Crying in response to a video, no matter how depressing the scenes in it may be, isn’t the same as crying in response to an actual sad situation in your life,” Whitbourne wrote in Psychology Today. “The next time you feel a flood of tears about to release themselves, there’s no reason to withhold them from flowing down your cheeks. They can become helpful adaptive signals that allow you to regulate your mood back to normal.”
If you find yourself in a toxic environment at work, there are options for you to better the situation. Monster Career Expert Vicki Salemi said in an email release that while it might seem like there’s no way for things to change, ultimately it relies on you to change the tables.
“(Your bosses or colleagues) — they’re going to change,” Salemi said. You can change your attitude about it (and deal with it, unfortunately), or do what I recommend most: look for a better job.”
Salemi offered insights on ways to objectively take a step back like getting away from your job. Weekend strolls through the park or just normal walks can help, while exercises like yoga can help clear your head. Even starting a buddy system or reaching out to a mentor can help you better evaluate the situation and whether there’s a change that can be made in the situation.