Smiling is something that everyone does. Even the most cantankerous person smiles from time to time; It’s involuntary. You see or hear something funny and you’re smiling often without even realizing it. But a smile is more than something that happens when you hear a good joke or are amused by friends. There are actually health benefits to smiling.
Whether you’re unhappy with your smile and need a temporary fix or a permanent fix, smiling is ultimately going to be the key to living a long, happy, and healthy quality of life– smile in spite of! Read on if you want to know the ways that flashing a smile can actually save your life.
Smiling Relieves Stress
In today’s 24-7 nonstop world, we’re bound to experience stress. Whether it be pressures on the job or family-related issues, stress is a reality. But smiling actually has an effect on the body’s chemistry. Smiling releases a group of hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are sometimes referred to as the happy hormone because they make you feel joyful and warm.
Smiling also tells the brain to release neuropeptides. Neuropeptides are tiny proteins that can help reduce stress. Studies have shown that smiling during brief stressors can help reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response.
Smiling Lifts Your Spirits
There’s nothing like a big grin on your face to boost your mood and even the mood of others. But feeling happy isn’t just about fun and games, there are benefits to the body. When you’re in a good mood, your body releases dopamine and serotonin. Similar to endorphins, dopamine and serotonin are “happy” neurotransmitters that reinforce feelings of well-being.
Interestingly, it’s been found that smiling can trick the body into thinking you’re happy even when you’re not. So flash those pearly whites. Even if your smile isn’t of movie star caliber, your body will thank you.
Smiling May Reduce Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because there are often no symptoms. But it puts you at risk of heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and other ailments. Although smiling and laughing initially increase heart rate, afterward, the muscles relax, and eventually the heart rate and blood pressure decrease. Some other ways to give yourself more opportunities to relax and smile include:
- Taking time to read for pleasure
- Getting out and enjoying nature
- Doing something good for others
- Practicing meditation and relaxation exercises
Smiling Reduces Pain
You may not associate a smile with a way to reduce pain, but this may be the case. Remember those “happy” neurotransmitters called endorphins? They also serve as natural painkillers and are released when we laugh and smile.
A study by the University of California, Irvine, analyzed pain levels after needle injections similar to that of a flu shot. Researchers found that those who were smiling during the injection reported the injection hurt about half as much as those who were not smiling. This means there could be a correlation between pain and the facial expressions we make.
Smiling May Lead to a Longer Life
As it’s more common to see people living to 100, everyone is looking for the next big thing that will extend their life. But you might be surprised to learn that one secret to a longer life could be as simple as smiling more.
Researchers at Wayne State University analyzed photos of 230 baseball players who began their careers before 1950. The photos were enlarged and the intensity of the players’ smiles was rated from big smile to no smile. The players’ smile ratings were compared to death rates from 2006 to 2009. What researchers found was that the player with the biggest smiles had the longest lives.
Even though it may not be perfect, a smile is something that everyone has. Smiling doesn’t cost anything, and there are many health benefits that go along with it. Smiling can result in health benefits ranging from reduced blood pressure to reduced pain to increased length of life. Considering all the amazing health benefits that go along with something as simple as a smile, we should all make it a priority to smile more.
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