(CNN)Grab a tissue. It's all right to cry. Really.
Although it's often seen as a sign of weakness, crying can be just what the doctor ordered for sorting through muddied emotions and wading out anew.
Our disapproval of emotional expression generally and crying specifically stems from childhood, said Stephen Sideroff, author of "The Path: Mastering the Nine Pillars of Resilience and Success" and an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles.
As kids, we're often taught to restrain our emotions. Maybe you remember being teased in elementary school for crying when you were hurt. Or your parents chastised you by saying, "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about."
Many of us learned there were feelings, such as anger or resentment, that we shouldn't have or express. As children grow into adulthood, we gradually learn to regulate — and sometimes repress and stifle awareness of — our feelings.
So what, you might say? Who cares? But we don't hold emotions in only our heads, Sideroff said. We store them in our bodies, too.
And there's no better day to learn about emotional acceptance than today, which is International Self-Care Day — an annual observance initially marked on July 24, 2011, to spotlight self-care as a vital foundation of health. (That the day occurs on the 24th day of the seventh month is meant to symbolize the importance of practicing self-care 24 hours a day, and seven days per week.)
Holding back your feelings can hurt
"These feelings have energy," Sideroff explained. "You (then) have to constrict in different ways to hold them in." That interferes with natural, instinctive processes and creates imbalances since the body's need is still there.
"If you're hungry, you eat," Sideroff said. "You find food to resolve and address that imbalance."
So if you're sad or hurt or angry, you need to find something to resolve that imbalance.
If you don't, you might express those imbalanced feelings in inappropriate ways — like lashing out at your family or friends.
Emotional restraint can hinder our ability to experience positive feelings, such as joy and love, as well.