There are many ways smiling is good for you, even when you are in the kind of mood that could easily lead to WWIII. Some of these benefits apply directly to you. Others are great for those around you. Smiling is fast, free, and easy, but for those who need reasons to do it more often, here are seven ways smiling is good for you.
1. It Boosts Your Mood
Even when you have had the kind of day that makes you want to tear your hair out, smiling boosts your mood. One of the key ways smiling is good for you is it releases endorphins. Not only do endorphins make you feel energetic, there is evidence to suggest they improve your body's response to insulin. So forget acai berries/green tea/whatever else is in-vogue for enhancing glucose uptake: smiling is easier and free. As someone who does not respond well to green tea, this makes me happy.
2. It Improves Your Posture
Next time you erupt into a genuine smile, pay attention to your posture. Most people straighten their back when they smile naturally. As a result, your posture is going to improve! In a world of slouchers--myself included--this is great news. You can kiss goodbye to backache and say hello to a less slouchy you.
3. It Makes Others Happier
Like yawns, smiles are contagious. When you grin, so does everyone else around you. Well, almost everyone. Clearly some people will be in a very bad mood and won't want to smile. Anyway, there is some neurological research to suggest that our 'mirror neurones' cause us to smile when someone else does. So do everyone around you a favor and throw out a little smile!
4. It Makes You More Productive
A little dose of happiness makes you more productive. I did a little research into this, and the journos at Forbes seem to be all over it so I am going to trust in this one. It appears that a lot of this is down to your body responding biologically in the same way that it does when you are genuinely feeling positive. With a dose of endorphins, you feel happy and get on with your work. So if you are feeling a little glum during the working day, smile and see if your work improves.
5. It Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Even the fakest of smiles can help you lower your blood pressure. A study at the University of Kansas examined around 160 men and women. This study found that those who forced a smile experienced lower blood pressure. So next time you feel your blood boiling, smile and experience the cardiac benefits. Maybe try doing this in private though, because angry smiles can look a little scary...
6. It Reduces Wrinkles
A lot of wrinkles arise because your skin loses its tone. This is alongside reduced collagen and elastin production as you age of course, but you can tackle that with a good diet. For the outside, smile to reduce wrinkles. Undergoing a little facial gymnastics by smiling is great no matter where you are. Not only will it slow the onset of wrinkles, it'll help everyone see you for the lovely friendly person you are too.
7. It Can Reduce Stress and Depression
This one seems a little obvious when you consider smiling reduces blood pressure. It's probably a little bit more multifaceted than simply slowing your heart down, though. Those endorphins will help, just like they do when you go for a run. Also, smiling makes others respond to you positively. When the world around you seems happier, you feel less stressed.
So if you can, make yourself smile a little more often. For most of us, this comes naturally. If you don't feel like smiling when you're having a bad day, take a little time to do it at home while you relax. If you have noticed the positive effects of smiling on your life, please share them here!