The Magic of Smiling
Research over the years has shown that smiling improves mood.
Even forced smiling!
In my household, we have a saying "give me ten", whenever someone is stressed or in a bad mood. And unlike its military cousin we are not talking push ups....although that might be a good topic for another blog.
The act of smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress . Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
Pasting a smile on your face,even if you are consciously faking it, can improve your mood and reduce stress.
Some of the earliest work in the area was done by psychologist and “facial coding” expert Paul Ekman. While experimenting with negative facial expressions like frowns, Ekman found that his mood seemed to be altered. In 1990, Ekman’s research on other subjects showed that adopting a “Duchenne smile” – a full smile that involves facial muscles around the eyes – produced a change in brain activity that corresponded with a happier mood.
Research has also shown that smiling is contagious, so lets all smile, not for the health benefits it brings to us, but to inject all around us with this wonderful gift.