Why Crying At Work Is Essential For Your Mental Health

My experience of crying at work this week helped me learn more about myself and those around me.

Woman crying in public Getty Images | Unsplash, Dekdoyjaidee | Canva

I opened the passenger door of the Cutlass Sierra, climbed in, and shut the door behind me. I’d managed to keep it together in front of my classmates, but with the familiarity of my dad and the old red station wagon, I felt the tears flow. It was too much, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

“What’s wrong, Suze?” my dad asked, pulling out onto the street toward our home.

Through heaving sobs and stammers, I told the story about my day. I didn’t have friends at school and usually ate alone and sat on a bench during recess. Silence and a good book were all the solace I needed to feel content and safe. But on that day, as sometimes happened, a group of classmates pierced the veil of comfort and surrounded the bench to sling nasty words at me.


You’re fat and ugly, and nobody likes you.

White girls shouldn’t have afros. I’m going to call you Afro Joe.

Your parents wish you were never born.

I could go on, but my point is not to give nine-year-old ghosts a present-day voice. The point is that I sat voiceless as a child, soaking in their hateful comments to my core. And I held the tears inside because I knew they would worsen things. I would be labeled a “crybaby.”

Because despite the awful things they already called me, crybaby felt worse. And that point was hammered home as I turned to my dad for solace that afternoon. My dad was a loving and kind father. But he was also born in an era where men were expected to behave in specific ways. His well-intentioned advice that day showed it.


“Don’t cry! You’ve got to be a brave soldier,” he explained. “From now on, you can only cry for two reasons: if you break an arm or if someone dies.”

The message was clear: crying is wrong. Avoid it at all costs (unless in one of the approved scenarios.) The kids saying terrible things to me on the playground were just being kids. But I was just too sensitive.

I felt broken and too fragile for this world.

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Fast forward to this week at work. I’m 45 years old, and I’ve been working for 20 years at an insurance agency. With all of my knowledge and experience, it feels like I should be an expert in all aspects of what I do. But underneath all the insurance jargon and know-how, I’m still me. A shy and sensitive girl, now a woman, who cares about others and has difficulty with challenging interactions.


After a stressful few months, I had a heavier workload. I also had daily tough talks with policyholders about inflation and rising rates. I was on edge. And so was the customer who called the office. He was dealing with his own financial and medical issues in addition to a recent car accident. And from the moment I answered the phone, for a solid ten minutes, he angrily told me why I was personally responsible for the state of his life.

I braced myself against the barrage at first. But after a few minutes, I felt the tears begin to flow. Trying to hold them back became too difficult. Unable to respond to his concerns in my usual helpful and constructive way, I just mumbled that I was so sorry, several times until he hung up.

When the call ended, I gathered my composure and went to the bathroom to let the ugly tears heave out of me. Then, I returned to my desk to get on with my day.

Usually, I judge myself for crying in public. I remember being a scared girl surrounded by bullies. I recall my dad’s rules about when it’s ok to cry. But this time, I just let it out. I told my co-workers and boss what was happening and let the emotion flow. And it was healing.


I’m writing this for anyone who’s ever held back their emotions or judged themselves for allowing tears to flow in front of others. Crying is a profoundly human experience, and reframing how we view it is important. I’m tired of getting angry at myself for feeling things deeply. I want to embrace those parts of myself even more. They give me the empathy that I treasure, and that gift helps me show up how I want to in life.

RELATED: 7 Proven Physical And Mental Health Benefits Of Crying

Here are 3 reasons why we should love ourselves through public displays of emotion and why they can help us and those around us heal:

1. Crying is a natural emotional release

Science says that crying is a healthy way to express and process emotions. When we cry due to emotion, our bodies flush out stress hormones and toxins.Researchers have established that crying releases oxytocin and endogenous opioids, also known as endorphins. These feel-good chemicals help ease both physical and emotional pain.”


Suppressing our tears, on the other hand, can even lead to increased stress and anxiety. It gives me a headache. If you’ve ever choked back tears, you know it’s not easy. Sometimes, concealing strong emotions feels downright impossible. So, I’ve learned to cut myself slack and stop criticizing myself for expressing my humanity.

2. Crying builds connections with others

When I cried at work, nobody got mad or told me that I was being unprofessional. They were kind, understanding, and sympathetic. And I felt closer to them after telling them what happened and why I was crying.

People who see you cry may feel empathy and compassion towards you. This shared vulnerability can lead to stronger connections and a sense of community. The presence of tears is more likely to elicit empathy and support from others. Research says that crying individuals are seen as more agreeable and less aggressive. Tears also promote social bonding.

I’ve realized that hiding my emotions is due primarily to the fear of judgment. But the opposite is often true. There are many kind-hearted, nurturing people in the world who are willing to help and support others. So, let go of the fear and ask for help when needed. Judging yourself harshly for crying in public comes from a place of self-judgment. I’m working on being kind to myself and accepting my emotions without judgment. This acceptance is vital to emotional well-being.


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3. Crying is a sign of strength

My dad was from a generation where men were considered weak when they showed emotion. And while this is beginning to change, the perception is still widespread. But it takes courage to show your emotions openly.  Crying doesn’t mean you’re weak; it means you’re aware of your feelings, and you’re not afraid to acknowledge them.

By being open with your emotions, you help to create a culture that values mental health. This encourages others to express themselves more openly, leading to a more accepting society. Remember, emotions are part of the human experience. Allowing yourself to express them freely is a step toward emotional health and well-being.

I’ve learned that childhood experience and trauma can lend themselves to how we experience life and judge ourselves as adults. I’ve come a long way from the bullied little girl on the playground. But I’m still a sensitive person with deep emotions and feelings. The difference is that I’m learning to understand why it’s okay to feel and express my emotions.  And I’m proud of myself for being in touch with my feelings and knowing how to express them to others.


So, the next time you feel a strong emotion, remember that tears can help release stress from your body. Others may feel connected to you when you cry and share your feelings. And crying is a sign of strength. Be proud of yourself and your emotions. And don’t be afraid to share your feelings with others — we are all human, after all.

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Suzanne Berger is a copywriter and content writer with a Bachelor's Degree in writing from the University of Evansville. She is an introverted empath who loves art, movies, and history.