Why smiling is good for your health

1 min read

Why smiling is good for your health
Research suggests you really should smile more! It could enhance both your mental and physical health

Smiling’s a stress reliever

A University of Kansas study found that participants who were asked to smile during stressful tasks had lower heart rates during stress recovery. So it seems even forcing yourself to look happy helps manage tricky situations.

It may lower blood pressure

The fact smiling reduces your heart rate when you’re stressed is also likely to have a knock-on effect on blood pressure. Other research has shown blood pressure doesn’t rise when people are exposed to humour. 

Beaming boosts immunity

A smile releases certain hormones in the brain, including serotonin, which is associated with an improvement in immune function. So, if you want to stay well, it makes sense to smile more. Depression, on the other hand, can weaken your immune system
Smiling woman

A smile can sooth your pain

Being amused also prompts the release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. In one study, participants who smiled while being injected reported 40 per cent less pain than those holding a neutral expression.

Looking happy encourages positivity

It seems smiling really can boost your mood, rather than simply being a response to feeling happy. A 2022 study of 3,878 participants in 19 countries found people’s happiness rating was higher when they smiled.

Smile and live longer

Now, the news that being optimistic has a beneficial effect on longevity really is something to smirk about. The research backs it up. For example, a 2010 study from Washington State University found that pre-1950s major league baseball players who had the broadest smile in their photos lived longer.
Of course, smiling also endears you to others and helps you connect with them. The good news is if you practise enough, it’ll become second nature. Give yourself cues to remind you to put a grin on your face—when you see someone laughing or you’re making a cup of tea, for instance—or put a note on your phone. Think of something pleasurable, such as a favourite person or memory, when you smile.  
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