Why is Smiling Healthy? 6 Ways Smiles Boost Your Health

31 Oct 2021
Why is smiling healthy?

Have you ever wondered, “Why is Smiling Healthy?” Maybe not, but many people do. Examine the people around you. Are they smiling? Are they frowning? Even if they are total strangers, their mood may have an effect on how you feel at that moment. Try smiling right now. Do you feel better? Smile at the next random person you see. Did they smile back? Smiles are the magic medicine nobody talks about.

Why is Smiling Healthy?

It has been scientifically proven that smiling increases self-esteem, makes you feel happier, and improves your immune system. The effects of smiling have a positive impact on your whole body’s health. It isn’t just a placebo effect either. Smiling makes you look happier and feel happier!

The basic way a smile works is that the muscles in your face are connected to your nervous system. When you form a smile, the action of the muscles triggers your brain to release “feel-good chemicals.” These neurotransmitters make you happier.

The simple act of curling your lips up into a smile creates a surge, or chemical storm, in your brain.

Smiling Creates a Chemical Storm in Your Brain

Facial muscles allow us to move our mouth in an upward or downward manner. There are a total of 43 different muscles that create facial movements, but the main “smile” muscle is the zygomaticus major. When this muscle is split it creates dimples, but that’s for a different day.

Movement of the zygomaticus major triggers a chemical reaction in the brain that results in the release of neurotransmitters. The names of the neurotransmitters are endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. Each performs magic within our bodies.

Endorphins create feelings of happiness and relaxation. They also act as a natural pain reliever. These reactions help us deal with stress and discomfort. The chemicals dopamine and serotonin are natural anti-depressants. When released, they lift our mood.

In addition to the natural mood-enhancing capabilities of a smile, the chemical reaction assists in the overall relaxation of the entire body. This reduces stress and can lower both the heart rate and blood pressure.

Dopamine and serotonin work, naturally, to do the same job that prescription anti-depressant medications perform.

Health Benefits of Smiling

In addition to the mood-boosting abilities from smiling, there are documented health benefits. The overall effects of smiling more can actually give your entire life a boost!

Improved Mood

We briefly touched on the mood-enhancing abilities of a smile. The chemical storm in our brains improves our mood, but also has a trickle-down effect on almost every part of our physical body! There are even studies that prove that faking a smile can actually trick your brain and body into feeling better.

Pain Relief

Endorphins released by the brain when smiling can act as a natural pain reliever. In scientific studies, it has been shown that people expressing negative emotions during medical procedures experience more pain than people who “put a positive face” on their pain. Smiling is truly a natural drug.

Lower Blood Pressure

The heart is the center of our physical being. It is a muscle that sends oxygenated blood to every part of our body. During periods of stress or physical exertion, our heart beats faster, which also increases blood pressure. While the occasional boost in blood pressure is quite normal, sustained periods of High Blood Pressure (HBP) can put a strain on the entire body and especially the heart.

Although in severe cases, a person may need medication to control HBP, the act of smiling may help too. Science is studying how this works within our complex body structure, but the initial results indicate that laughter is indeed the best medicine.

Relieves Stress

That nervous smile when you find yourself in an awkward situation is a natural stress reliever. People can suffer panic attacks, nervous sweating, and more physical symptoms when under stress. The act of smiling can help to relieve that naturally. Although not a cure-all, try it the next time you feel stressed. Just smile.

Boost Immune System

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many people are more aware of their immune system than they were two years ago. With that awareness comes the desire to increase our natural immunity. Sure, we can go get a vaccine, but what if we could do something simple to boost the efficiency of that vaccine? Would you do it?

Smiling and laughing trigger the release of neuropeptides, which are tiny proteins in your brain. These little chemicals help your body fight illnesses by increasing immune-system response. This helps our bodies fight off disease and infection by increasing the production of antibodies. If you want to boost the effectiveness of your immune system add laughter to your list of daily vitamins and supplements.

Youthful Appearance and Longer Life

You don’t need plastic surgery to appear younger! All you need is to smile. That’s right — smiling can make you appear younger naturally.

In a study on smiles and appearance, groups were shown photos of people with various facial expressions. The goal was to guess the correct age of the individual in the image. The results were conclusive that people shown smiling were presumed to be younger than the same person shown frowning, angry, or with a neutral expression.

The more youthful appearance also ties into a longer life. Because smiling and laughter add so much to overall health, it is documented that years can be added to your life just by laughing and smiling more.

Why is Smiling Healthy?

In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, there are psychological advantages from smiling more also. Smiling and laughter are contagious. If you smile at a stranger, chances are they will smile back. Even while wearing a mask out in public, smiling can be seen in the eyes and overall facial movements. So what if your mouth is covered? Smile anyway. Smiling is a contagion we want to spread!

Laughter and smiling can also improve relationships. This includes family, friends, and romantic relationships. Even working relationships. Increasing your positivity can have a lasting effect on everyone in your circle.

Not Feeling It? Faking It Works Too

If you’re not feeling much like smiling, we get it. But you can still give your health a boost by faking it. Try it. Go find a mirror. Give yourself a smile. Take a few seconds and recall something that makes you feel happy. Smile at yourself for at least ten seconds. Did your reflection smile back? Yay! It worked!

On a more serious note, if you are not happy with your smile, you can make an appointment with Wilmington Orthodontics to find out about discovering your dream smile. It is never too late to improve your smile. Contact our Scheduling Coordinator at (978) 658-3310.

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