10 Essential Health Benefits of Smiling
When we feel good, it makes us smile. But, did you know the reverse is also true?
Training yourself to smile more often can actually make you feel better and live longer. Here are 10 scientific ways smiling can improve your health.
1. Smiling Reduces Stress & Anxiety
In 2012, researchers at the University of Kansas tested 169 participants who were forced to smile during stressful situations. One group held chopsticks in their mouths, causing their face to smile to varying degrees.
According to the study, “Chopsticks were essential to the task because they forced people to smile without them being aware that they were doing so.”
The group with the biggest smile showed lower heart rate levels after recovery from the stressful activities. They also reported a smaller decrease in positive affect compared to those who held neutral facial expressions.
2. Smiling Helps You Heal Faster
A 2011 study by Orvosi Hetilap monitored the effect of smiling artists on hospitalized children. The study showed a marked effect with the first visit, but also displayed increasing effectiveness with more visits. This suggests that smiling and laughing more often can actually aid in the healing process.
A joyful heart is good medicine. – Proverbs 17:22
3. Smiling Boosts Your Creativity
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco discovered that being in a good mood improves your creativity. Men who were happy had a more holistic approach to problems than their negative counterparts. The study showed they were able to recognize innovative solutions others may have missed.
4. Smiling Helps People Trust You
A study at the University of Pittsburg showed that trust levels increased greatly for smiling people vs. their scowling counterparts. Of course, we’re not talking about the slick con-artist smile. Genuine, or Duchenne, smiles give others a sense that you have their best interest at heart.
5. Smiling Strengthens Your Relationships
Smiling and laughing are contagious actions. When one person starts, the rest of the group tends to join in. This shared experience creates a bond with your friends, family, co-workers, and classmates.
Think about it. You like to be around other people who make you feel good. And it’s hard to laugh without feeling good.
6. Smiling Retrains Your Brain for Optimism
If you find yourself overwhelmed by negative thoughts, try smiling more.
When you smile, your brain receives and keeps track of signals telling it to think positive. Doing this often breaks your mind’s previous tendency to thinking negatively and rewires to a default positive mindset.
7. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System
You can feel the effects of a happy expression all the way down to your cells. Ph.D. biochemist and artist, Sondra Barrett, studies the connection between your thought life and cell function.
In her book, Secrets of Your Cells, Barrett explains that cells know the difference between safety and danger, find and repair problems, and create an overall sense of balance within your body.
When we smile, our cells relax. This helps reduce the risk of stress-induced cell mutations preventing or even combating the effect of various cancers.
8. Even Fake Smiles Make You Feel Better
This is a weird one. Researchers at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people whose ability to frown was compromised by botox injections were happier than those who could frown. The simple, physical act of turning that frown upside down actually improves your emotional state.
The study went even further to discover that smiling during a painful situation, such as getting a shot at the doctor, can also reduce your perceived pain levels.
9. Smiling Makes You More Attractive
“Say cheese!” isn’t just an expression. The long E sound naturally puts your mouth in the smiling position so you always look your best in photos.
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 96 percent of American adults believe an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex.
So be sure to smile next time you ask someone out. They’ll feel happier and already see you as more attractive!