We know that you may be proud to show off those pearly whites, but the truth is, smiling does much more than just make us appear to be happy, polite and approachable people. In fact, the acts of smiling and laughter produce an immense amount of positivity for our overall health. When we smile, we release chemicals like endorphins, serotonin and other innate painkillers; it’s a natural drug that provides us with a favorable mood boost.
Let’s take a closer look at the real health benefits of smiling and laughing:
- Smiling helps to reduce blood pressure: Smiling and laughing can lead to an immediate increase in heart rate and oxygen consumption. After you laugh, a series of events occurs: your muscles relax, your heart rate decreases and your blood pressure is lowered.
- Smiling can reduce pain & stress: When we smile, our brains release tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Without getting too scientific, other chemical messengers like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins then join the party too. Endorphins take on the role of mild pain reliever, while serotonin acts as an antidepressant.
- Smiling can help to strengthen your immune system: Smiling or laughing activates and relieves our stress response. Laughter, often preceded by a smile, actually increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. This helps to improve our resistance to illnesses.
- Smiling can help to increase endurance: Research has shown that a ‘real’ smile can help runners relax and can reduce muscular tension. In many long-distance races, elite athletes often appear relaxed and even smiling as they’re performing.
Studies have shown that, on average, children smile at least 10x more than the average adult does on a daily basis. We can chock it up to our routines, job stresses, grownup stresses, and just being “on” all the time; or we can try to identify ways to welcome smiling and laughter into our lives more regularly.
Here are some tips on how you can get your giggling groove back:
- Spend time around children – after all, they do say the darndest things.
- Spend quality time with your pets or around animals – their loyalty and unconditional love often generates an automatic smile.
- Remember what made you laugh as a child, reflect fondly upon those memories and then try to recreate some of them.
- Surround yourself with positive people with good senses of humor.
- Listen to your favorite song or write in a journal – if you have a hobby or an action that tends to bring your joy, use it to its fullest potential.
- Tune into a sitcom or a romantic comedy that always speaks to your soul.
- Check out the Internet – from YouTube and TikTok to funny blogs and stand-up comedy routines, there’s plenty of humorous content available on the Web.
- Take advantage of nice weather and get outside for a stroll – feasting your eyes upon beautiful natural scenery can lead to peace, serenity and smiling.
So the next time you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, flip over and turn that frown upside-down so you can reap the benefits!