How Healthy is Smiling?
Did you know smiling can generate the same brain stimulation of 2,000 bars of chocolate?
Or cause the same impact on brain neurons as winning $25,000?
Well, it’s time to find out more!
Smiling is so important that there is even a day dedicated to it in October.
October 2nd 2020 was the 21st anniversary of World Smile Day which was created to spread happiness and promote wellness. While this day has been celebrated every year since 1999, it’s important to remember the health benefits of smiling year round.
Most overlook the health benefits of smiling, and it’s so important to be educated to help meet wellness goals. So, let’s find out why smiling is good for us!
COVID-19: Social Isolation & Depression
Before getting into the science, please remember in these times, no act of kindness is ever too big or too small. Sometimes the smallest random acts of kindness can cause someone to smile. Especially given the events of 2020, making a stranger or loved one smile every day is a very important and notable goal.
The world has undergone a huge shift in these last months, causing more uncertainty and frowning than any other October in recent memory. Usually October is an extremely happy month filled with apple picking, pumpkin recipes, and preparations for Halloween. Many around the world are out of work, and faced with uncertainty about the future. Moreover, studies are showing these times have caused more social isolation and depression. Many find working from home to be lonely, and some are still asked to stay at home most of the time reducing time in the sun and exercise.
Studies Show Amazing Health Benefits From Real or “Fake” Smiling
What better time than now to realize we’re all in this together, and to really make an effort to promote happiness with friends, family, and colleagues.
Why? Well, you might be proving them a huge boost to their health! The impact of smiling on mental, emotional and physical is incredibly interesting. In fact, this is a topic that has been studied in detail for decades. For example, Charles Darwin published the “Facial Feedback Response Theory” which states the act of smiling in itself makes us feel better, instead of the result of feeling good.
Several recent peer-reviewed studies indicate smiling can help reduce stress enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and dopamine, increase the level of mood enhancing hormones like endorphins and reduce overall blood pressure.
Additionally, several notable stress researchers have studied the impact of smiling on stress and health. They conclude people who smile more are more likely to attend preventative health care visits instead of only going when sick. Even “fake” smiling still sends a message to the brain with real physiological benefits. The mere act of smiling causes the brain to release anti-stress hormones and reduce the impact of cortisol on the brain and body. This also helps the immune system, cardiovascular system, and may even reduce pain.
There are other benefits of smiling. A study from Penn State University indicates smiling can make you appear to be more likeable, courteous, and competent. Smiling on a job interview will likely improve your chances of getting hired.
Ways to Encourage Smiling Year Round
So, why not help spread these amazing anti-stress and health promoting benefits? Here are some ways to encourage smiling:
Share what makes you smile on social media. Snap a selfie and tag your friends to do the same!
Perform a random act of kindness. For example, try to raise funds at work for a child in need of surgery or for a displaced family.
Spend time with children with diabetes. Ask questions, and give them the chance to perhaps ask you or another grownup with diabetes questions.
Host a smile-themed party. Spread smiles in your local community.
Give someone a compliment. Hearing “You look great today!” or “Nice job on your last work assignment” especially when unexpected can cheer up anyone.
Share an older memory on social media that will bring a smile to the others there.
Tell a joke!
Make a friend or family member their favorite dish.
Donate old clothing and furniture to charity.
Create a photo album with happy memories for a loved one.
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