Smiling people

The power of smiling

July 4th, 2024 Posted in Article

Research has shown that smiling can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health. The powerful smile begins in our sensory corridors – the hearing of a word, seeing something familiar or a hand feeling the pressure of another hand are all examples. This emotional data whips up to the brain, predominantly triggering the left anterior temporal region of the brain responsible for the smile. The zygomaticus major (cheek) tugs the lips upward and the orbicularis oculi which scrunches up the outside corners of the area around the eye.

The whole event typically lasts from less than a second through to four seconds but the impact is pretty impressive. Here are some of the key benefits:

1. Stress Reduction: Smiling can reduce stress levels. It triggers the release of endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin, which together help to improve mood and reduce stress.

2. Immune System Boost: Smiling can enhance the immune system’s effectiveness. The release of endorphins helps to relax the body, which, among other things, increases the number of antibodies and natural killer cells, thus improving the body’s ability to fight off illnesses.

3. Pain Relief: Smiling and laughter releases endorphins, which are our body’s natural pain relievers. Research has shown that people expressing negative emotions during medical procedures experience more pain than people ‘who put a positive face’ on their pain. So yes, smiling and laughing can play a part in alleviating physical pain and discomfort.

4. Lower Blood Pressure: When you smile, the muscles in your face contract and help increase blood flow to the brain. There is an initial increase in heart rate and oxygen consumption, followed by a relaxation response that helps to lower blood pressure. There are published journals showing that people who smiled more had lower heart rates during stressful tasks than those who didn’t smile.

5. Improved Mood: Smiling releases brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which are associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. Not only do they elevate your mood but they also relax your body thus reducing physical pain.

6. Social Bonding and Relationships: Smiling can improve social interactions and relationships. It makes you appear more approachable and trustworthy, which can strengthen social bonds and support networks. Smiling is contagious – give it a try. In the words of writer William Arthur Ward, “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness”.

7. Longevity: Some studies suggest that the positive effects of smiling, such as reduced stress and improved social interactions, may contribute to a longer life expectancy.

8. Mental Health Benefits: Smiling can have a positive effect on mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. The physical act of smiling can send signals to the brain that you are happy, which can lead to a more positive mindset. So, while smiling might seem like a relatively simple act, it has a wide range of benefits that can contribute to better health and well-being and even smiling in the mirror for five seconds each morning can have a positive impact on the day ahead. We are smiling whilst writing this and can watch the ripple effect down the office. When you pick up the phone – smile before you speak, it changes your whole mindset and body language. You genuinely can feel a smile down the telephone!

Go on smile. It really is the most powerful tool.