How to Cry in Public

Everybody cries. And in our dog-eat-dog, overly connected world, everybody has probably cried in public. Whether it’s a rough day at work, a funeral, or something sneaking out of your memory and into your eyeholes at in inopportune time, it’s a simple fact of life. You don’t have to feel bad about it, but you do probably want to minimize the damage:

(1) Stop It Before It Starts

  • Yawn

It’s been proven … somewhere … that fake yawning can help prevent real crying.

  • Pinch The Bridge Of Your Nose

I have no support for this except that it occasionally works for me.

  • Breathe deeply and tap the tips of your fingers, rapidly and one at a time, to the tip of your thumb.

When I accidentally took a meditation class in law school (long story?) I learned that I cannot meditate – or think, really – while sitting still. My brain works best when I’m able to shut down part of it by focusing on physical movement. Walking is best, but if you’re stuck where you are, try rapidly drumming your fingers against your thumb. It keeps a tiny bit of your brain busy – if you’re lucky, the part that’s a newly-opening tear factory.

  • Try a crying mantra

Repeat a phrase over and over again to yourself, like “not now” or or “don’t think about it” – but don’t do it out loud. Better to be the person who is crying in public than the person reciting a crying mantra in public.

(2) Go To A Second Location

  • Make a quick exit to the bathroom.

People might think you’re crying, but they also might think you have diarrhea. That sounds like a lose-lose, but since they don’t see you cry, you can still remain a beautiful mystery.

  • Take a walk

If it’s a situation where it’s not weird for you to leave, get out of there and get moving.  People may see you cry as you walk by, but you’re gone in a flash. Plus, movement helps your brain do something other than cry.

  • Assess your workplace cry-zones

Like kindergarteners making maps of their household fire plans during Fire Prevention Week,  know your escape routes before an emergency arises.

Not every bathroom is a good crying bathroom. Some have too much traffic, or are single-stall deals that may leave you crying in the hallway while you wait for someone to finish their business. If so, excuse yourself to your work station (full disclosure: I have my own office, which basically means I am the person that the #blessed hashtag was created for. But it comes with its own crying perils: last month I had a street view of a police officer’s funeral. It was a 3-hanky day.).  Once there, busy yourself. If you work in an office setting, maybe there is an empty conference room that you could weep in. Make sure that it’s empty first, though, because folks will remember the snot-faced person who barged into their meeting.

  •  En route to your second location, carry your cell phone in full view.

Then instead of crying over something stupid, it becomes plausible that you just received bad news or have to make a rough phone call. People will be less likely to stop you.

(3) Create A Task

If you’re already in tear mode and haven’t been able to remove yourself from the situation, I want you to create something to do. This can busy your mind enough that the tears will go away. It can be a real task, like refilling snacks or cleaning up garbage at a party. It can also be an imaginary one, like counting mustaches at a funeral.

(4) Fix Your Face

  • Water yourself like the beautiful flower that you are

Cold water is your friend. Splash it on your face and into your eyeballs. This may wash off your makeup, but your makeup is already ruined unless you wore waterproof mascara (what, did you KNOW you were going to be crying today?).

Drink a lot of water, too: it’s good for your puffy skin and your tear-hangover.

  • Ice, Ice Baby

Get a cold soda can and press it against your face. You can also use an ice pack or frozen veggies if you have them. It will cool down and depuff your skin.

  • Your eyes are the windows to your soul and the whole world is full of peeping toms.

What I mean is, cover your eyes as you would a window you didn’t want people to look in. If you can’t wear sunglasses, try these:

  • Gently tap your undereye area and the corners of your eye with your fingertips.
  • Are you publicly crying in a place where you have access to milk? Soak a cotton ball or a balled-up tissue in it and leave it on your eyelids for a while.
  • If you have eye drops handy, use them.
  • Pop an anti-inflamatory. It might bring down your face-poof, but if not it will still help knock out your crying headache.

(5) Live To Cry Another Day

So, you cried in public. It’s fine. Anybody has a problem with that has a problem with the fact that you’re a human person with feelings and tear ducts. If anyone looked at you like you were crazy, it can be fun to craft crying revenge scenarios.  If you are crying because someone honked at you, just imagine how dumb he would feel if he knew that your dog just died. And that snippy lady at that bank would sure feel cruddy if she realized that you just got dumped.  Then, find something that always makes you happy, whether it’s a favorite funny movie or a friend who’s good at making you feel better. You may be a snot-faced tear factory, but so is almost everybody else.