In the movie Broadcast News, Holly Hunter plays a stressed-out Washington D.C. network news producer. Her job is fast-paced and she is under constant pressure. As an outlet, every morning unplugs her phone, sobs for two or three minutes, plugs in her phone again, and begins working. This emotional release leaves her ready to handle the intense demands of her day.
I thought this was interesting when I saw the movie, but I could not imagine anyone intentionally crying in real life until I went on a ten day hiking trip several years ago. All of us knew hiking in the mountains would not be easy, but the daily hikes were far more rigorous than we expected. We had an altitude change of at least 3,000 feet most days and one day we went over a 15,000 foot peak with little time to acclimate. By the end of the first week, everyone was cranky from sore muscles, lack of sleep, and altitude problems. In the middle of a particularly miserable part of the trail, one woman stopped and burst into tears. She said she needed to get her anger and frustration out of her system and this was her way of doing it. She sent us ahead and caught up with us about 15 minutes later. Subsequently, she was more cheerful than the rest of us for the remainder of the trip.
When we are stressed, our tension expresses itself in some way. We may be grumpy and unpleasant to those around us, overeat, or have tension headaches, insomnia, or some other set of symptoms. In one of my first jobs, I was not exercising very often and did not have any tools for managing stress, so it manifested itself as illness; a lingering cold that lasted for six months. It magically vanished within a few days of leaving the company.
Tears are not for everyone. One man I worked for said that when he was in college he would go out into the woods near his apartment and yell as loudly as he could. I have friends who run, swim, and practice martial arts. They do these activities for exercise and because they enjoy them, but also as a means of blowing off steam. For me, walks and a daily yoga practice provide an outlet.
The Washington area tends to be very intense and even more so now with the current economic pressures. It is very easy to let our worries and fears build up inside of us. Most of us cannot just stop and burst into tears, though some days we may feel like it. However, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to find some way to release the stress accumulating inside. We may not have a daily cry like Holly Hunter’s character, but if we can find a way to create little releases in our lives, we may feel better and be healthier.