We all smile when we see a baby smiling, and we laugh when we hear a child with full belly laugh. The contagious nature of smiles and laughter are great for social bonding: they can start a friendship, ease social tension, and spread happiness. Smiles and laughter are also good for our health.
Susannah Schaefer, CEO of UK charity Smile Train, explains the physical benefits associated with smiling and laughing.
Endorphins are chemicals that trigger a positive feeling. The movement of muscles in your face releases endorphins, which lower stress levels and improves your mood. Even if you are not feeling happy, endorphins will trick your body into thinking that you are. So, the more you smile and stimulate your brain to release this chemical, the happier you will feel.
The release of endorphins through smiling also increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure. This means that you can lower your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems – just by cracking a smile. Endorphins have many great health benefits and a simple smile will have you feeling good on the outside, as well as the inside.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that, like endorphins, contributes to happiness and well-being. Laughing and smiling encourages the release of serotonin, which has many positive benefits – one of which is boosting the immune system. So, laughter and smiling really is the best type of medicine!
Smiling is one of the very few gestures which means the same thing all around the globe. Handshakes, thumbs up, and hugs can have completely different meanings in different countries, however the meaning of a smile is universal. This means that you can travel anywhere in the world and communicate happiness.
A smile suggests that you are approachable, personable, and trustworthy. In fact, smiling connotes positivity in general. Psychology has shown that smiling makes you more attractive to others. This is because a smile is an inviting facial expression which eases tension and makes people feel comfortable around each other. People are more likely to engage socially with someone they perceive to be friendly, and a smile is the perfect way to demonstrate this.
So, even if you don’t feel like there’s much to smile about, it’s worth finding something. Call a friend, watch a sitcom, read a feel-good book, join a group, or watch some funny animal videos… Whatever makes you smile, just do it. Your health will thank you for it.
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