Did you know that the act of smiling can actually improve your health and well being? You’ve probably heard the phrase “fake it ’til you make it,” and smiling, even when we don’t feel like it, can actually make us happier in the long run!
Scientists research what actually happens when we smile and why we do it. Usually we smile when we are happy, but when we smile it can chemically change our body. A smile causes a chemical reaction in the brain that releases dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin is associated with reduced stress. Here are 4 facts to give you more reasons to smile (even when you might not feel like it):
The chemical, Serotonin, is associated with reduced stress. More levels of serotonin mean your body can handle stress. This stress might be emotional or mental if someone is struggling with depression, anxiety, or a crisis. Stress can also be physical stress to your body such as infection or trauma. With more levels of serotonin our immune systems are stronger and can fight infections. This means you are less likely to become sick when exposed to viral and bacterial infections. Our bodies immune systems are heightened and stronger from increased serotonin levels when we smile!
It is no surprise that when we are under less stress, whether emotional, mental or physical, we are healthier. The chemicals released when we smile help lower that stress level and in turn lowers our heart rate. Early studies show smiling could also reduce blood pressure, and increase our longevity.
We have heard this before, but really it is true. When we smile it gives off a feeling to others that helps them understand our own feelings of warmth and good spirits. This improves relationships and communication, as wells as encouraging others to smile. Even a simple can turns someones day or life around when they feel affection from this gesture. It can increase their mood and those essential mood stabilizing chemicals in our bodies.
A 2004 study from Penn State University found that authentic smiles shared by employees in the service industry influenced their impressions on customers in a positive way. Smiling employees came across as more likable and friendly, and customers left the interactions feeling more satisfied about their overall experience. The simple gesture can lead to more and better relationships amongst strangers, friends, coworkers, and family.
The benefits of smiling can be life changing. Increased immunity, less stress, better mood, quality relationships, and overall better health are nothing to take lightly. The next time you are having a tough day or times, try the simple act of smiling to help chemically change your body and improve your quality of life.