Smiling may seem like an involuntary response to something cute or funny, but it is much more than that.
Studies suggest that smiling, forced or not, can have a positive effect on your mood, decrease stress levels, and even make everyone around you feel better. Here are 9 surprising benefits of smiling that will really give you something to smile about.
Benefits of Smiling
1. Smiling is Contagious
Because of complex brain activity that occurs when you see someone smiling, smiles are contagious. Studies report that just seeing one person smiling activates the area of your brain that controls your facial movement, which leads to a grin.
Even in bad situations, if you smile, others are likely to mimic the expression.
2. You’ll Decrease Stress and Anxiety
It’s not easy to keep smiling in stressful situations, but studies report that doing exactly that has health benefits. When recovering from a stressful situation, study participants who were smiling had lower heart rates than those with a neutral facial expression.
So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, just try smiling to calm yourself down.
Related Article: Fight Stress with Affirmations, Visualizations and Mini-Meditation
3. Smiling Releases Endorphins
Smiling can help you manage stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, chemicals that makes you happier. Endorphins are the same chemicals you get from working out or running, resulting in what is known as a runner’s high.
4. You’ll Be More Attractive
A smile suggests that you’re personable, easy going, and empathetic. In fact, a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that smiling actually makes you more attractive to those you smile at.
5. Smiling Strengthens Your Immune System
Smiling even makes your immune system stronger by making your body produce white blood cells to help fight illnesses. One study found that hospitalized children who were visited by story-tellers and puppeteers who made them smile and laugh had higher white blood cell counts than those children who weren’t visited.
6. You’ll Be Friendlier
Studies have found that people are more willing to engage socially with others who are smiling.