You feel frustrated, You are having a really bad day, You are in a rush, And you see someone smiling at you. Or you watch some of those cute animal videos that make you smile. And in turn, you can feel your frown turning upside down and uplifting your mood. Science has shown that the mere act of smiling can have health benefits like lifting your mood, lowering stress, boosting your immune system and possibly even prolonging your life.  There are various physical and psychological health benefits of smiling.

Physical health benefits of smiling

  • Releases endorphins 
    Endorphins are happy hormones that make us feel joyful and warm inside. When we smile, our body releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin elevating your mood, alleviating stress, and relaxing our body.

  • Reduces blood pressure and decreases risk of heart disease
    When we are stressed, our heart rate increases and our blood pressure rises. According to Chris Norris (psychiatrist and neurologist) “smiling and laughing initially increases heart rate, then relaxes the muscle, and eventually decreases the heart rate and blood pressure.” High blood pressure is one of the key risk factors of heart diseases. Reducing blood pressure can ultimately also reduce our risk for heart diseases.

    So just like smiling through a worrying situation can help lower stress levels, smiling can also help lower blood pressure. 

  • Strengthens immune system 
    When we smile or laugh, small proteins in the brain are released. These tiny molecules maintain immune tolerance and may help fight potentially serious illnesses. This in turn increases the count of immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, which improves your resistance to illnesses. This benefit of smiling can also lessen your visits to the doctor!

  • Increases endurance
    Dr. Velikova says “one of the most important factors in athletic endurance is perceived effort.” Perceived effort is how hard you feel your body is working, regardless of how hard it might actually be working. Now one health benefit of smiling, in terms of endurance, is that it helps in decreasing perceived effort and increase athletic performance. This means that we may use less energy in our workout as well as increase our performance. So next time try and smile while working out and see the difference!

  • Reduces pain
    The endorphins that are released when we smile can temporarily reduce body aches or minor pains. Over time increased laughter can elevate your pain threshold and help us build a higher pain tolerance.

Psychological health benefits of smiling

  • Alleviates stress
    When we are stressed it becomes difficult for us to think positively or relax as such. However, if we try and smile during brief stressor, this smiling can trick our brain into releasing neuropeptides – tiny proteins that can help lessen stress. So you can try and fake a smile and start feeling its benefits. Your psychologist at mental health center can help you to practice and giving you more strategies.

  • Boosts mood
    Your psychologist at the mental health center will help you understand that we can trick our brain very easily. So when are happy we tend to smile and when we are sad we tend to frown. These facial expressions are directly corresponding to the emotion we are experiencing. A study in Journal of Experimental Psychology found out that forced smile can also generate more positive emotions. So, the physical act of smiling can trick your brain into thinking you’re happy even when you may not entirely be happy. 

    However, persistent sad mood or symptoms of depression can be best treated by your psychologist at Center for Mental Health, Pune.   

  • Strengthens relationships
    Smiling can help you succeed in both your personal and professional life. A study in journal of positive psychology suggests that those who express positive emotions and who are happier, in general, are more likely to achieve goals at work and in their everyday lives. Another study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that positive expressions like smiling predicted more “favorable outcomes” in life such as successful marriages and personal wellbeing and satisfaction. 

  • Relieves anxiety
    Anxiety can trigger stress just like stress can cause anxiety. Smiling has been proved to be helpful in reducing stress levels. Sometimes smiling can also help trigger happier thoughts — curbing negative emotions and reducing your anxiety in the interim.

Both, the physical and psychological effects of smiling go hand in hand. However, at times, smiling may not come easily. Imagine getting terrible news, having a stressful day, times like these may make it difficult for you to turn your frown upside down. You can try some tips given below for experiencing the health benefits of smiling

  • Practice gratitude –  count all the things you’re grateful for.

  • Spend more time in nature – Spending time outside can enhance your wellbeing, your mood, and your likelihood of smiling.

  • Self-care and helping others – Doing something for yourself or others can be one of the most rewarding ways to put a smile on your face.

  • Read and/or watch something funny

  • Remind yourself to smile – Leave subtle reminders for yourself to smile more.