You’ve heard the phrase “grin and bare it” and probably thought that it really only had a negative connotation. But believe it or not, it’s idiom that’s anything from idiotic.
The act of physically smiling can bring you a wide range of mental and physical health benefits, even if the smile isn’t 100% authentic. It’s an easy, free, and effective medicine that doesn’t require you to take any additional supplements.
Here’s an in depth look at everything that smiling can do for your mind and body. We dare you to make it to the end without putting a grin on your face!
Physical Benefits of Smiling
When you smile, there are a number of physical and external changes taking place that can have an effect on your own health as well as the perceptions of those around you.
It Lowers Your Blood Pressure
When you smile or laugh, your body experiences a period of relaxation. This might be due to your brain believing that you’re under less stress than normal.
This means that it can improve your blood pressure and other functions, like heart rate or respiratory rate. Laughter has even been used as a form of therapy for centuries. Since there’s no harm done, why not just put on a smile?
It Makes You Look More Attractive
It can be difficult to be around someone who is angry or gloomy. And while those are normal emotions, the act of putting on a grin can make you seem much more approachable as opposed to a straight face.
Studies have consistently shown that a smiling face is more attractive than a neutral one. Smiling can positively affect the perception of personality traits that would otherwise be attractive in a long-term relationship.
Smiling can also make you seem more agreeable, which fosters the desire to include you into a social group. So if you greet a stranger with a smile, they’re more likely to be receptive of you and bring you into their lives more fluidly.
And while most of the research on smiling and attraction has been concerned with sex and relationships, who’s to say that the same benefits can’t apply to friends and family? Smiling just makes you look awesome, allowing you to build stronger relationships with every other person in your life.
It Can Boost Your Immune System
Happiness might even be able to lead you to a longer life. One study exposed undergraduate students to the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. After exposure, some students were exposed to positive situations, like funny videos or pictures. The other students were given no positive stimulation.
The results found that students who were exposed to humor were not only less likely to develop the cold, but they reported less severe symptoms if they did contract it.
Biologically, it’s not quite known why this happened. But it goes to show that smiling and having an overall more positive mood can have direct effects on the quality of your health. So next time you need to take some cold medicine, do it with a smile and you might feel better in no time!
Mental Benefits of Smiling
Smiling is a physical action that can have some seriously positive mental effects. Let’s take a look at a few of the most prominent.
It Relieves Stress
When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules with the goal of fending off stress. They’re called neuropeptides, and they facilitate communication between different parts of your brain.
Smiling releases specific neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These are known as the happy chemicals, as they can lower feelings of anxiety and heighten feelings of joy.
This happens because when you smile, your brain is tricked into thinking that something funny or exciting is happening. This helps to release larger quantities of neurotransmitters that are associated with happy feelings.
This equates to lower levels of stress, which can be helpful when life’s heated moments are getting the best of you.
It Helps Balance Mood
You know now that smiling releases neurotransmitters that can help reduce stress. But those same neurotransmitters can make you have a more balanced mood overall.
Not to mention, it might just make you feel good. Forcing a smile might feel so silly and unnatural that you can’t help but start laughing at yourself! Bringing a genuine smile to your face is a fantastic way to get a boost of energy to prepare you for the day ahead.
We all want to be happy as often as possible. So when you see someone else smile, it opens the door to make you want to smile as well!
When we look at someone’s facial expression, the amygdala fires electrical impulses in response. In return, our brains naturally let us know how to respond to the person’s non-verbal cue. For example, if the facial expression reads sadness, we may become prepared to offer a shoulder to cry on, or we might ask what’s wrong.
But when you see someone smile, your brain feels relieved that the people around you are having a good time. In turn, this lets you feel more relaxed, letting you let loose and show off your pearly white teeth as well.
This means that the act of smiling can make other people feel just as happy, which can make you happy, creating a never-ending smile cycle!
How To Smile More
You know great smiling can be for your body, both inside and out. But the process of smiling is a lot easier said than done, especially with how stressful life can get. With that said, there are a few simple ways to bring a smile to your face even during the most heated situations.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
To feel the effects of smiling, you don’t actually need to be feeling “happy.” By just forcing a smile on your face, you can start to feel a more positive mood, relief from stress, and increased cognition.
If you’re having a bad day that doesn’t seem to be getting any better, try standing in front of a mirror and giving yourself the biggest smile possible. Not only will this trick you into looking at a smiling face, but you’ll realize that this is so absurd you can’t help but actually smile.
When you foster feelings of positivity and kindness throughout your daily life, you’ll be more inclined to react more positively to stressful situations.
Surround Yourself With Humor
They say laughter is the best medicine. And while it might not be able to heal a broken leg, it sure can work to fix a broken spirit. Throw on a funny sitcom, scroll through some internet cat videos, or hang out with your most joke-driven friends to feel a reprieve from the serious and sullen portions of life.
Laughter and smiling go hand in hand, and they each have the same benefits. Sometimes it’s impossible to do one without the other, so keeping fun stimuli around you at all times can do wonders for combatting the typical stressors of the day to day.
Take Time For Yourself
Between work, school, hobbies, friends, family, chores, and volunteering, the list of commitments and stressors is seemingly endless. Being overwhelmed can turn that smile upside down, so it’s essential to spend some time for yourself.
Take a warm bath, read that book on your shelf, watch a Netflix series, or go for a hike. Do something that can take you away from the activities that bring you anxious feelings. When you give yourself time to breathe, smiles are sure to follow.
Smiling is easy, free, and it feels great! The act of smiling can have direct physical benefits such as lowering your blood pressure, enhancing your immune system, and making you look more approachable overall.
And as for mental benefits, smiling can relieve feelings of stress, help balance your mood, and spread to those around you. This helps to build stronger bonds with the most important people in your life.
The best part is that you don’t actually have to feel happy to get all these benefits. Even forcing yourself to smile can trick your brain into thinking that you’re in a good mood, which might lead to a more positive headspace overall!
Still struggling to Smile even after hearing all this? Believe it or not, CBD actually has some of the same effects as physically smiling. So the next time you need to feel a little better when you’re at your worst, Smile’s organic CBD might be just the thing to turn that frown upside down.