The benefits of smiling go beyond making you look prettier and approachable. The happy emotions that bring you to show your whites also impact on the way the brain works as well as your overall health. If you’re looking for reasons to smile more, look no further than the following benefits.
Benefits of smiling for the brain
Smiling affects the brain the most. From changing the cognitive perception to influence your mood and that of others, it proves that non-verbal communication can be as or more effective than the verbal one.
It improves your mood
One of the easiest perceived benefits of smiling is the way it affects the mood. In a 2010 study, researchers discovered that smiling would increase positive thinking and lift up the mood as opposed to the control group who saw their negative emotions increase when using muscles non-related to smiling.
According to the researchers, the benefits were more significant when the individuals were aware of their self-focus negative feelings and tried to counteract these by smiling.
It’s a happy “drug”
According to a 2017 study, laughing and smiling triggers the release of neurochemicals with a similar effect as opioids. These chemicals help the body feel blissfully calm.
At the same time, they also work as a mechanism to reinforce and maintain social bonds, leaving people feeling more comfortable and open to the interactions with others.
It changes perceptions
According to a 2015 experiment, when you smile for real and often, it can impact on the brain’s perception of other people’s faces.
The researchers concluded that people who smile a lot are less likely to notice and read frowns and worries in other people’s faces because their brain begins focusing only on the positive traits and happy features.
Benefits of smiling for the face
Although people tend to speak of “smiling lines” to refer to some of the facial wrinkles, the opposite is true. Smiling activates different muscles from frowning and can actually help you maintain a youthful look.
While frowning contracts the face downwards, smiling pulls the muscles up, strengthening the skin’s elasticity. Furthermore, the “smiling lines” are temporary and disappear as soon as you stop the motion because they are followed by the total relaxation of the muscles.
Besides, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, smiling does make you look prettier. According to the researchers, a friendly smile takes away the attention from physical imperfections and even increases positive feelings from others. In this study, the smiling subjects were also attributed higher degrees of sincerity, sociability and competence.
Health benefits of smiling
The benefits of smiling extend to the overall health too. Since the brain releases endorphins and serotonin, the simple motion of smiling can help reduce the levels of stress and make the body relax. It thus works to prevent stress-related diseases and disorders and to boost the immune system.
There are also some indications that it can be beneficial to lower blood pressure and that it may increase the pain threshold and level of pain tolerance. Next time you feel any pain, instead of popping a pill right in, just test these results and try watching a comedy show you enjoy.
A 2010 research has also found that people who smile more and more intensely tend to live longer, although no clear explanation for the fact was revealed.