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  • Samantha Ford

Grin your way to a healthier life

6 benefits of smiling and top tips to help you smile more!

What makes you smile? Do you love smiling, or does the thought of smiling fill you with dread? You may think that most of your smiling reactions are involuntary, or perhaps an unconscious response to stimulus around you, which brings you feelings of happiness or joy. Whilst this can be true, smiling can also be a conscious or intentional choice.

What is the psychology behind smiling?

Smiling, whether it is genuine or not, can offer many physiological health benefits. Smiling can not only lift your mood, but those around you too. Some days it seems effortless to smile. You wake up in a great mood and perhaps you are looking forward to something exciting that day. You feel amazing in your morning yoga class, someone smiles at you, you arrive on time for work with a positive attitude, ready to conquer the world - everything is going to plan!

Unfortunately not every day starts this way. Maybe you wake up feeling more tired than usual, and don’t have the energy to face the day. You hit snags and brick walls at every turn. You exhaust yourself trying too hard, and consequently a smile seems impossible. Perhaps if you were aware of the wonderful benefits of smiling, you could start to make a conscious choice to smile? Feel silly at the idea of smiling when you don’t feel like it?

Health and smiling

1. Smiling relieves stress

Your stress response can affect your whole body – internally and externally. You become tense throughout your body and your face can be a big tell-tale sign of how you are feeling. Smiling when you are stressed is not something you would automatically do, and perhaps the thought of it seems trivial. However, a simple smile can do wonders for stress reduction and appearance, even if you are faking it. Try smiling next time you feel stressed. It may just help to improve your mood and how you manage stress.

2. Smiling may boost your immune function

It is thought that when you smile, you relax and consequently your immune function improves due to the release of neurotransmitters such as GABA. It is a two pronged approach, since warding off illness due to a healthier immune system will also play a role in helping you feel less stressed and happier – a win:win for smiling!

3. Smiling may help you live longer

Perhaps this is the best reason to smile! A study carried out by Abel & Kruger in 2010 concluded that happy people seemed to enjoy better health and longevity, but more research is needed to understand why. Studies show that happiness could increase lifespan by years; suggesting maintaining a happy, positive mood may be an important part of a healthy lifestyle and it could all start with a simple smile!

4. Smiling reduces pain

We love this one, and we have tried it and it works! Research has shown that smiling releases endorphins and serotonin. Both of these neurotransmitters can make you feel great. Together, they not only relax your body and reduce physical pain, they can elevate your mood. Note to self - try this at my next visit to the Dentist :-)

5. Smiling can make you more attractive

A smile in your direction can certainly lift your mood and often will prompt you to smile back.

We are naturally drawn to people who smile . Smiling is seen as an attractive, and positive trait in people. Smiling can also make you look more youthful because the muscles we use to smile also lift the face, making a person appear younger. So there’s no need for a facelift or facial massage if you smile regularly!

6. Smiling can make you feel positive

Smiling can influence positivity. Regardless of whether or not your smile is genuine, it still sends the message to your brain that you feel good.

Try this little test..…

Smile. Now try and think of something negative without losing the smile. Can you do it? Most people find it hard. We hope we have convinced you that smiling consciously or unconsciously benefits your health in many ways, but how can you smile more often? Try these top tips.

1. Practice smiling: Do not feel silly, remember all the good things smiling can induce! Try it as you are reading this article. Think of something to make you smile or laugh out loud. Make a silly face to the person next to you – you will hopefully both smile.

2. Find a smile trigger: So how do you remember to smile throughout your day? You will need something which reminds you regularly. Maybe a reminder on your phone or smartwatch, or maybe choose an action like putting your keys in the door, putting the kettle on, drinking or eating. Set yourself a challenge of consciously smiling 8 times or more a day!

3. Motivate your friends and family: Quite often your friends or family members help you get through challenges in your life. Explain to them about the benefits of smiling or send them this article. Get them on board, so you can smile your way through life together.

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