Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, life could be tough. Trying to balance jobs, hobbies, friends, and alone time can be stressful sometimes.
Feeling this way is normal and completely allowed. But getting stuck in an endless loop of negative, intrusive thoughts is too easy to do. It’s important to remember that for every bad thing there are hundreds of good things that can make your stresses completely disappear.
The world is so vast and beautiful that there is something to smile about underneath every surface, it’s just a matter of knowing where to look. Finding reasons to smile can improve your wellbeing both physically and mentally. That, right there, is even something to smile about.
Mental Benefits of Smiling
Smiling is a facial expression that’s always been a byproduct of feeling happy. You only smile when you’re in a good mood, right? Well believe it or not, it can actually go the other way around!
Just the act of smiling can be enough to provide some relief from life’s heated moments.
1. Smiling Reduces Stress
In a study by the University of Kansas, participants were asked to conduct stressful tasks while holding chopsticks in their mouths to simulate a smile, hold a smile, or neutral expression. The study revealed that participants who smiled during the task had lower heart rates and more positive response to the task — regardless of if they were consciously smiling or not!
Even the act of smiling was able to keep people a little more level headed when compared to those who didn’t. It suggests that the old adage “Grin and Bear It” actually has some real merit. Smiling during brief stressors can reduce the intensity of the body’s response to stress, regardless of whether or not you actually feel happy.
2. Smiling Lifts Our Mood
The next time you get into a bit of a skirmish with a friend or you feel overwhelmed by endless schoolwork, take a deep breath and force yourself to smile. Not only are you going to look happier, but you might even feel better.
When you smile, your brain releases serotonin, which is an endorphin responsible for feelings of joy and happiness. So just the act of smiling might help restore balance to your mood on days when it just feels like nothing’s going your way.
And on top of that, smiling and laughing at yourself will just naturally bring you joy. Look in the mirror while you do it, and you might start to laugh at yourself because of how silly the whole concept is. But when you sit back down to tackle your work, you’ll be in the right headspace for anything.
3. Smiling Is Contagious
As humans, we love to love. Showing people how much we care about them and spending quality time with friends and family is one of the best ways to feel pure joy. But if you’re not feeling top notch, there’s a good chance that negative energy will latch onto others.
Of course, the opposite is true too! When you feel good and you bring that positive aura with you, the people around you will start to take notice. Smiling is the best way to outwardly show someone that you’re feeling good. And since being joyful is so great, it might help to remind people that there’s plenty to be happy about.
Physical Benefits of Smiling
While it’s important to feel good on the inside, it’s important to feel good on the outside too! Being physically healthy is important for a long, fulfilling life. And smiling might be able to help out.
4. Smiling Makes Us Attractive
Think about the things you might look for in someone if you’re looking to make a friend or meet a romantic partner. Before you even speak to them, their body language is key. And a smile might make the difference between a random passerby or a lifelong partner.
There is a real factor of physical attraction that takes place when you smile, especially when compared to negative emotions like scowls or frowns. Think about it: what kind of face do you make in order to look your very best during a photoshoot? Of course, it’s a smile!
5. Smiling Can Lower Blood Pressure and Boost Immune System
Since we know that smiling can reduce stress, that means it has the secondary benefit of being able to lower blood pressure. Since stress increases physiological responses like heart rate and blood pressure, smiling can help reduce those symptoms easily and efficiently.
Similarly, stress can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to colds and flus. But when you smile and relieve some of those stressful sensations, you might be building up your body’s defense against the elements.
Activities To Make You Smile
Knowing why smiling is good can only go so far, because you need to actually be able to smile in order for them to work! Here are a few ideas for ways to make that happen.
Enjoying a Hobby
We all have something that’s unrelated to our jobs that we love doing in spare time. It’s important to devote some space in a busy schedule to do something that makes you feel great.
For you, maybe it’s going on a hike or painting a portrait. It might even be watching a new television series or trying to beat the final boss in a video game.
Whatever it is, be sure to smile throughout so you can make the most of it — not that you probably even need to consciously try!
A Self-Care Routine
Nothing feels better than getting pampered at a spa, and you can (and should) do it for yourself right from home! Run yourself a nice warm bath, light some candles, and chill out with your favorite book.
Feeling relaxed and de-stressed is directly related to being happy. When you let yourself unwind after a long day, you’re rejuvenating your body so that you’re ready to go when you wake up in the morning.
If you’re a pro at self-care and want to try something new, you can incorporate some CBD oil into your routine to give yourself an exceptionally relaxing experience. Since CBD can lift mood and help to relieve feelings of stress and tension, you might start to find yourself smiling without even realizing it. Consider putting a few drops under your tongue, in your bath, or into an essential oil diffuser.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
One of the best ways to get smiling is to be around the people you love. Humans are social creatures and having a strong support system fosters emotional and physical health.
Social support can help to reduce depression and generate a positive self-esteem, which will get you smiling right away. Whether it’s friends, family, or a life partner, it’s important to spend some time with the people who make you happiest.
Things To Smile About
Sometimes you can’t do an activity that will make you smile, so you have to try something different. It might be as easy as remembering something great that makes you feel happy.
Here’s a list of 15 things that are sure to make you smile.
- A puppy playing in the snow.
- The smell of a fresh pot of coffee.
- That someone loves you.
- The feeling of clothes right out of the dryer.
- Your favorite song.
- The sound of someone laughing.
- Getting a hug.
- The smell of French vanilla.
- Snow-covered treetops.
- Playing a card game with friends.
- Opening a gift.
- Seeing family.
- Pay day.
- Driving with the windows down.
- Smile because you’re uniquely you!
These are general points, but you can write down your own list of things that make you happy. It can be a constant reminder of how much you have. So if you’re ever feeling down, just take a look at your list and remember how fortunate you really are.
Smiling can be tough sometimes, especially when there are so many things that can cause stress and discomfort all around us. However, smiling is essential for keeping your head held high.
When you smile, consciously or not, you’re actually improving your physical and mental wellbeing. So if you force yourself to smile even when you’re not joyful, it might help you actually become more positive.
Be sure to engage in activities that make you feel good, like enjoying a hobby or hanging out with others. But if those aren’t available, make yourself a list of things that make you smile. It’s a constant reference of everything great in your life.
So, if you’re not doing it already, make yourself smile right now. It will make you even happier than you might think.
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