Recently I’ve been trying to smile more. I’ve noticed that whenever I smile I feel so much better. It’s not that I don’t smile because I’m unhappy, I just seem to have lost the habit, or if I do smile, it’s quick and fleeting. I’m practising smiling more, smiling longer and just because I can.
So other than looking like the Cheshire cat what benefits are there from smiling more?
Smiling is good for you…
Smiling actually lowers your heart rate and reduces stress. In studies people who smiled directly after a stressful situation had a lower heart rate than people with a neutral expression. It temporarily lowers blood pressure. It releases endorphins that counteract and diminish stress hormones.
It’s not only endorphins that are released but also natural pain killers and serotonin. This not only enables you to diminish stress but also lift your mood, making you feel better, calmer and more relaxed. That wonderful sense of well being within that a smile can bring.
It’s contagious! It’s one of the few contagious things I don’t mind catching from others! It’s hard not to smile back when someone offers you a genuine smile and soon your smiling and others are smiling back at you and it keeps getting passed on around the world, lifting people’s moods.
When you smile you look better, younger and appear more approachable to others. Smiling helps others relax around you. Studies have shown that people who smile often are considered more attractive and are thought to be trustworthy by others.
Further studies revealed that people who smile and laugh often are less likely to develop heart disease and furthermore have a stronger immune system than those who don’t -smiling actually helping your body produce more white blood cells to combat disease.
Sometimes you may feel like you have much to smile about, but your brain doesn’t know this! It cannot distinguish between a false smile and a natural smile. The brain uses the feedback from your facial expressions and muscles to gauge your mood. This was first discovered by Charles Darwin who suggested that our expressions actually intensify our feelings. This theory is known as the “Facial Feedback Hypothesis”. So if you’re feeling a bit low, force it! You’ll be naturally smiling soon enough as your brain registers a smile and acts accordingly.
So smiling is good for you, it’s healing, so put yourself in situations that encourage it, watch funny films and television shows, hang out with friends who make you laugh, put funny quotes, pictures, photos on the fridge, put a sticky note on the mirror reminding you to smile, just smile! Make it the best habit you’ve ever developed!