VOS: The Science of Smiling: How the Act of Smiling Affects Your Mind and Body

The Science of Smiling: How the Act of Smiling Affects Your Mind and Body

Psychology explained

March 2023

The Science of Smiling: How the Act of Smiling Affects Your Mind and Body

Smiling is a universal expression of happiness, joy, and friendliness. But we smile not only when we’re happy, but also in situations of embarrassment or even fear. In general, a smile is a natural response to positive emotions and social situations and has been found to have a powerful impact on both our physical and mental health.

Smiling makes you happier

When we smile, our brain releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators. Other hormones that are released are dopamine and serotonin. So when you smile, your brain produces hormones that tell your body that you’re happy, and you feel happier.

Smile a day keeps the doctor away

Although it seems unbelievable, laughter also affects physical health. It's been proven that smiling:

  • reduce blood pressure,
  • boost the immune system,
  • reduce perceived pain,
  • relieve stress by decreasing level of cortisol,
  • reduce depression.

Going into practice

So, what can we do to harness the power of smiling in our daily lives? One simple step is to make a conscious effort to smile more often, even if we don't feel like it. By encouraging ourselves to smile, we can activate the neural pathways in our brain that promote feelings of happiness and well-being, and can create a positive feedback loop that leads to even more genuine smiles.

They say we are the average of the five people we surround ourselves with most often. Another step is to surround ourselves with positive and happy people. When we spend time with others who are happy and upbeat, it can be contagious, and can help us to cultivate a more positive outlook on life.

In conclusion, by making a conscious effort to smile more often and surround ourselves with positive people, we can harness the power of smiling to lead happier, healthier lives. So, go ahead and smile – your mind and body will thank you!

This text was written by our mental health expert. In addition to her expertise, we have used the following resources:

  1. Cross, P., M. et al. (2022). How and why could smiling influence physical health? A conceptual review. Health Psychology Review. DOI: 10.1080/17437199.2022.2052740
  2. Skerrett, P., J. (2010, 24th of November). Laugh and be thankful—it’s good for the heart. Harvard Health Publishing. Available on: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/laugh-and-be-thankful-its-good-for-the-heart-20101124839
  3. UWA. (2019, 6th of June). Psychology To Grin About: The Benefits Of Smiling And Laughter. The University of West Alabama. Available on: https://online.uwa.edu/news/benefits-of-smiling-and-laughter/
  4. Yim J. (2016). Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. The Tohoku journal of experimental medicine, 239(3), 243–249. https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.239.243

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