People often cry at funerals, during sad movies, and when listening to sad songs. But other people may find themselves crying while having heated conversations with others, confronting someone they’re angry with, or talking about something important.

This kind of crying can cause embarrassment and confusion. The good news is that with time, you can learn how to control it.

You should also ask yourself if your crying really is a problem. Sometimes, through our tears we release emotions that are penned up and need to be expressed. There are times when crying can help you to actually feel better.

If you cry a lot, you may feel self-conscious. It may feel like people are taking you less seriously when they see you cry, or you may feel weak (which isn’t really true).

But if you cry a lot, it may mean you’re having difficulty dealing with your stress. Or you might feel helpless when stuck in certain situations or talking to certain people. Or, according to research, you might be stressed out by, or have trouble reading, people’s facial expressions.

Learning how to control your stress can sometimes help you better control your tears. Here are some tips to help you stop crying quickly:

  1. Tilt your head up slightly to prevent tears from falling. The tears will collect at the bottom of your eyelids so they don’t run down your face. This can stop the flow of tears and redirect your focus.
  2. Pinch yourself on the skin between your thumb and pointer finger — the pain might distract you from crying.
  3. Tense up your muscles, which can make your body and brain feel more confident and in-control, according to scientists.
  4. Make a neutral face, which can calm the person you’re talking to and make it less likely they’ll put on an expression that triggers your tears. Scientists have found that neutral faces trigger less brain activity than facial expressions exhibiting specific emotions.
  5. Physically step back from a stressful situation, such as a heated conversation.
  6. Focus on controlling your breathing. Consciously attempt to take in deep breaths and slowly exhale. This may help you to feel more calm, reduce your overall feelings of stress, and decrease your chances of starting (or continuing) crying.
  7. Blink rapidly if you’ve already started crying to help clear away tears so they don’t roll down your face.
  8. Do not blink if you feel like you might cry, this can prevent tears from falling.
  9. Change your thoughts and frame of mind. If you feel stressed out and like you will start crying, divert your attention from your worries and tears, and instead think of something else — a happy moment, a funny scene from a movie, or something you’re proud of — that will distract you.

Crying is something that everyone does. But if you feel like you’re crying too much, you might be too easily overwhelmed by stress, or you may have another issue going on, such as a depressive disorder. You can begin by focusing on reducing the stress in your life to reduce your crying. You can get a handle on your stress by taking these steps to identify, confront, and deal with the stress in your life:

  • Identify what is causing your stress (and your crying): Is it a personal issue, your environment, the people around you, or something else?
  • Reduce the number of things you commit to. Overscheduling is a major cause of stress in many people’s lives. Look at your calendar and think about what activities, obligations, or events you could cut out to help reduce your overall stress.
  • Stay on top of your obligations. Tight deadlines and procrastination can increase stress. Prevent stress by staying on top of your work and setting more realistic goals for yourself if you feel pressed for time when trying to complete projects.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Determine which people in your life — friends, family, and coworkers —you can call on for help coping with your stress.
  • Find a hobby. Enjoyable activities such as art, music, or volunteering can help reduce your overall stress level. Noncompetitive activities such as reading, fishing, or gardening are often the best at relieving stress.
  • Use relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, stretching, visualizing a peaceful scene, and repeating a mantra can help calm your brain and body when you feel stressed.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can make it more likely that your emotions will get the better of you when you’re stressed. Most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

If you’re having trouble dealing with your stress, or you find yourself crying all the time, you might be dealing with a mental health condition such as major depression or bipolar disorder. These are serious mental health conditions that require medical treatment. If you’re concerned, see your mental healthcare provider right away for help.

Crying is a natural response to emotional situations. But some people cry more than others, and crying excessively can be uncomfortable. However, there are many things you can do to decrease the likelihood that you will start or continue crying. And there are things you can do at home to reduce the likelihood that you’ll start crying the next time you encounter a stressful situation. You should also know when to reach out to your doctor for help.

Next time you feel like you’re going to cry, or if you’ve started to tear up, remember that there are things you can do to stop your crying. Use these tips and confront the stressful situations in your life knowing you don’t have to cry, and if you start, you can control it. You don’t have to let your tears hold you back from being taken seriously or expressing your needs during difficult conversations.