We don’t mind spring showers because we know that at the end of the proverbial rainbow lush vegetation will dazzle our senses. When we grieve and it rains, we feel that nature empathizes with our personal sorrow. However, concerning the rain that drops down a woman’s cheeks, there is great negativity attached and men wish they would turn off the waterworks.
Many women cry to release stress and sadness. Having a good cry — hence the term — actually serves the same purpose as its more upbeat counterpart, laughter. Even though women around the globe have been suppressed and silenced (many still are) and are still finding their individual voices, there are a few facts women need to know about crying:
■ What tears do to men
■ How tears are perceived in the workplace
A recent study from the Weitzmann Institute of Science in Israel asserts that emotional tears in women emit a chemical which reduces sexual arousal as it lowers testosterone in men. Moreover, I suspect that some men are unnerved by a woman’s tears, taking it as a sign of disapproval and lowering his status around her. Most men want to protect, support and be approved by the woman they love. Tears are a sign that he is not succeeding which makes him feel a bit ashamed. Note: A woman laughing at a man’s jokes elevates his status and is a big turn on for him.
Therefore, when you need to criticize him, keep it short and simple — this ensures that he will
listen. Take the intensifiers out of your voice, stick to the point (no more than two minutes or you digress) and don’t use extreme words like, “you never help around the house.”
As for the workplace, women who cry are perceived as hysterical, unable to handle criticism or are that time of the month when they might be emotionally unstable. I’m not suggesting that women suppress their feelings or grievances; rather, to communicate better by thinking about how their words will be received as opposed to being tuned out. The workplace has its own etiquette, which is similar to a card game of poker.
To close the floodgates
■ Manage the small stressors you can do something about because they create a tipping point which overwhelms your emotional balance, predisposing you to emoting excessively.
■ Activity alleviates anxiety. So when you feel like you are going to lose it, take a walk outside in the light or do so some exercise in a discreet area: calf raises, wall pushups, chair squats, or go up and down the stairs. You need to move stress hormones out of your body.
■ Practice self-hypnosis regularly to activate an automatic response in time of need— takes three minutes! Begin by breathing to your own natural rhythm. When you are upset, your breathing is more rapid and shallow, so inhale two counts through the nose and exhale four counts through the nose to slow it down. Then imagine your happy place on earth (always go to the same location— beach, mountains, etc.). Use your five senses to experience it — hear the sounds, smell the fragrance, touch, taste and see it in living color. Then give yourself a message you need to hear (the message changes), like, “I am restored to serenity.” This feels like a mini-vacation. Now you are ready to respond instead of react.
■ Make sure to eat balanced meals to be balanced— often people grab coffee and sugary foods which create surges in blood sugar followed by the inevitable crash. Food and mood correlate highly— even the order in which you eat your food. Eat complex carbs to help release serotonin and improve your mood, followed by lean proteins for intellectually driven tasks at work.
■ Bad moods are highly contagious at the workplace and often you do not realize how much toxicity you absorb. Move away from the colleague or supervisor who is negative. Speak to someone positive and upbeat, or focus on your own work.
■ Listen to criticism instead of preparing arguments in your head to fight it. Evaluate criticism with, “Is that true?” If it is, ask for suggestions and make plans to implement changes. You must separate who you are from what you do. If the criticism is not true, then bring documentation and present the clinical facts when you are less stressed.
■ Don’t take yourself so seriously. Humor reduces drama to absurdity.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul and a stress-management specialist. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light radio show on WGBB AM1240 in New York and has been featured on radio/TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.