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College can be stressful – sometimes, students just need a good cry

It’s no secret that college can be stressful. Whether it’s the workload, the exams, the adjustment or something entirely unrelated, emotions are everywhere on Miami University’s campus. Sometimes, people just need a good cry.

There are a variety of places where someone can cry on campus, but where are the best? Different students have their unique preferences, ranging from crying privately in dorm rooms or bathrooms to out in the open in King Library or at Cook Field.

Kelsie Weingart, a first-year speech pathology major, has cried on campus for various reasons, including homesickness, deadlines and family emergencies.

“I actually found out that my grandma had cancer right outside of King Library,” Weingart said. “My mom called me.”

Although the Armstrong Student Center study rooms are her preferred place to cry, that day, Weingart settled for King Library and the Leonard Theatre inside Peabody Hall, where she had her next class.

“There was a lot going on,” Weingart said. “I just sat in the back [of class] and sobbed, and I was like, ‘hopefully nobody’s looking at me right now.’”

Weingart described her experiences with crying as cathartic, saying that they have helped her regroup.

Zara Zitko, a first-year psychology major, hasn’t had many experiences crying on campus. Still, when she needs to cry, she prefers a more open setting surrounded by people to support her.

She said that stress from schoolwork and relationship issues may contribute to students needing to cry on campus. When she needs to shed a tear, she goes to her common room in Dorsey Hall.

“You’re likely to find someone who’s willing to sit down and talk to you no matter what time of day it is,” Zitko said. “It also feels wide open, so it feels like your emotions have somewhere to go.”

While she has never done it herself, she agrees with Weingart that the Armstrong study rooms would be a good place to cry. Even though it’s a closed-off, private space, she likes that it still feels somewhat open.

“It’s not like I intend to put my emotions on public display, but I like having someone to go to and it’s nice to be able to bounce my emotions off someone else,” Zitko said.

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People cry for a variety of reasons, but it doesn’t automatically have to be a negative emotion. While it can be caused by stress and negative factors, crying is an emotional reaction — sometimes, people get emotional about good things, resulting in tears of joy.

Nancy Roane, a clinician at Student Counseling Service, said people also cry as a form of eye protection, but those tears are different molecularly than emotional tears.

“If you’ve ever cut an onion or experienced being around a smoky fire, you’ve maybe noticed that the tear ducts will react to produce tears and protect the eyes from getting damaged,” Roane said.

Like Weingart, Roane mentioned that crying due to emotion can lead to catharsis, helping people connect with their emotions.

“It’s been shown that [emotional tears] release oxytocin and endorphins and that it actually can help reduce stress and allow the body afterwards to be in a more relaxed state,” Roane said. “… Expressing emotions can be really helpful for processing them, working through them and being more deeply in touch with and present to life.”

For students who may be struggling, Roane said that Miami offers many resources they can turn to for help, such as the Office of Student Wellness, Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion and Student Counseling Service. For those who need immediate help, they can call the H.O.P.E Line at 855-249-5649.

“If a student feels like they need to cry or talk to someone, [the first step] is to first take a moment to recognize that they’re having strong emotions or something’s going on or something’s coming up, and that it’s OK that they’re having that response,” Roane said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all human. We all go through things.”