Do you smile and laugh often? If not, you may be missing out on some major benefits that they provide! Smiling and laughing have been shown to improve mental and physical health in a number of ways. Keep reading to learn more about how you can start incorporating them into your life today.
The Science of Smiling
Endorphins are the hormones in our brain that trigger a positive feeling in the body. When you smile, a signal is transmitted to the brain that stimulates our reward system, further increasing our level of endorphins. Endorphins also work as a mild pain reliever, and the serotonin that is released is an antidepressant. A study done by psychological scientists at the University of Kansas found that, “smiling during brief stressors can help reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.” Not to say smiling is the fix to all of your problems, but it definitely makes you feel better in the moment.
Laughter Relieves Stress
Many people are unaware of the physical changes laughing triggers in your body. Although it feels great to laugh anyways, it actually:
- Increases your intake of oxygen, which stimulates your heart, lungs and brain.
- Triggers your stress response at first, then lowers it, resulting in a relaxed feeling.
- Stimulates circulation, aiding in muscle relaxation, further lowering symptoms of stress.
Both laughter and smiling make for a quick boost of happiness in the moment, however, each actually can have some long-term benefits for your health. This information is supported because, when negative thoughts occur, they manifest into chemical reactions. These chemical reactions affect your body by causing more stress and decreasing your immunity. Positive thoughts, like those that occur when laughing or smiling, release neuropeptides that help decrease stress. Some other long-term health effects of the two are:
- Producing natural painkillers
- An increase of personal satisfaction by coping with difficult situations and connecting with other people.
- Heightened self-esteem improves your mood, decreasing levels of depression, stress, and anxiety.
Studies have found that just by being around someone who is smiling makes it almost impossible for you not to smile too. Further research shows that individuals who express positive emotions are more likely to achieve their everyday goals, as well as their goals for work. People who smile more are also likely to form better relationships, as they are viewed as more likable.
In conclusion, smiling and laughing have a variety of benefits for both our mental and physical health. They reduce stress, make us happier, help us form better relationships, and have long-term health benefits. So, the next time you’re feeling down or stressed out, try to smile or laugh – it just might be the best thing for you!