Feeling down in the dumps? What if we told you there was an easy way to change the course of your day. One simple act can elevate your mood, affect the people around you, and even make you look more beautiful?
All that seems like some pretty good reason to smile, right?
So what is this one little act?
As strange as it might sound, the simple act of smiling can have a profound effect on you and the people around you. Let’s dive in and learn about all the great reasons to smile every day that are sure to put a smile on your face!
Smiling is Contagious
What if there were a way to positively affect everyone around you? With a simple act, you can lift everyone’s spirits — including yours. Wouldn’t you do it all the time?
Unfortunately, many of us don’t take full advantage of this incredible gift we have. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start now!
Put a smile on your face and watch how it affects the people around you.
Don’t believe us? Smiling is actually scientifically proven to be contagious. How does it work? The part of our brains that controls the facial muscles necessary for smiling is automatic. When you smile or laugh at a joke, you don’t have to think about making the proper facial expression. It just happens — sometimes even when you consciously try not to!
Furthermore, seeing someone else smile is a natural trigger for our own smiling reaction. We naturally and unconsciously mimic the facial expressions that we see. So, put on a smile and watch the smiles light up around you!
Smiling Makes You Feel Better
Have you ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? It’s a psychological idea that indicates a prophecy comes true simply because we believe it. Usually, it happens because our belief about the prophecy influences our actions, which in turn influence and lead to the expected outcome.
What does this have to do with smiling?
Well, to some extent you can predict that you’ll be happy and then make it come true by choosing actions and behaviors that will make you happy.
One of the most basic is simply choosing to smile.
The act of smiling actually affects our brains, triggering the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. To some extent, smiling can actually be considered a natural antidepressant.
Furthermore, just as we were talking about in the last section, smiling is contagious. Seeing someone smile makes it easier for you to smile and helps boost your mood even more. So, find a mirror and smile at yourself. As silly as it sounds, it actually can perk up your day!
Smiling Relieves Stress
Stress can be a good thing when your body uses it to help you react appropriately to a dangerous situation or gives you that little push you need to finish up your assignment on time. Unfortunately, these days most of us are living with so much stress that it is having a negative effect on our health.
An astonishing 77% of American adults regularly experience physical symptoms as a result of the stress they feel. Chronic stress leads to a host of medical conditions and is an underlying factor in the early deaths of many Americans due to the health problems it causes.
Since we are facing such a crisis, you can easily find articles and blogs on the Internet offering all sorts of advice on how to decrease stress. Unfortunately, most of them require time to unwind, such as going for a long walk or taking a relaxing bath. This can actually cause more stress because you don’t have enough time to meet all your commitments as it is.
However, there is one simple act that doesn’t require any time and won’t take anything away from your day.
You’ve already guessed it, simply putting on a smile can help relieve stress. What’s more, you don’t even have to be genuinely happy to get some benefit (although that will help strengthen the effect). Fake smiling also helps relieve stress. Plus, fake smiles can turn into genuine smiles, further boosting your mood and relaxing your mind.
Smiling Fends off the Flu
Aside from its effect on your mental health, smiling can also affect you physically. The connection between the immune system and the central nervous system has already been discovered. Researchers have long been examining this connection as it relates to mental issues such as depression and schizophrenia.
It has also been documented that emotions can have a profound effect on the progression of serious diseases such as cancer, HIV, or cardiovascular disease. Anecdotally, you may know someone whose positive outlook seemed to have an effect on slowing the progression of a terminal illness or sending something like cancer into remission. Alternatively, you may know someone whose negative outlook provoked the opposite.
Regardless, while our emotions won’t ultimately decide whether we fully recover or succumb to a disease, they do have an effect.
A happy disposition and spending your time smiling can also boost your immune system in small ways, helping you fend off the flu.
Smiling Is Good for Your Heart
You already know that smiling is good for your figurative heart. As we’ve already discussed, the mere act of smiling can spark positive feelings which can lead to genuine happiness.
However, smiling is also measurably good for your physical heart as well. If you have a way to take your blood pressure at home, you can actually witness the effects of this yourself. Take a blood pressure reading to get a baseline. Now, spend the next minute smiling and continue to smile as you take another reading.
Aside from looking a little ridiculous, you’ll discover something amazing. After just that minute of smiling, you will register a small reduction in blood pressure. Pretty amazing!
Smiling Makes You Beautiful
The US cosmetic surgery market is worth a staggering $66.96 billion in 2021. Many people spend thousands of dollars on various treatments to look more beautiful. On top of that, the beauty industry is valued at another $40.9 billion in 2021.
Clearly, people are looking for ways to look more beautiful. However, there is one simple way that doesn’t require revolutionary new creams or going under the cosmetic surgeon’s knife.
Wear a smile.
A smile makes you more attractive to other people. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as it is often said. There is no definitive way to measure beauty.
When we look at one another, the beauty that we see is affected by how that person makes us feel as well as how they actually look. Viewing a smiling person is more pleasant and makes you feel happier, prompting you to conclude that they are more beautiful. Viewing the same person with an angry scowl or grouchy expression has the opposite effect and they appear more homely.
So, put on a happy face and forget about spending thousands on the latest cosmetic treatment out there.
Smiling Is a Natural Facelift
On top of making you look more beautiful, smiling naturally makes you look younger. Think about when you smile, what happens to your face? The muscles used to smile pull your face upward. It’s literally like a natural facelift!
Furthermore, a lifetime spent smiling will leave its mark on your face. You’ll be working the muscles that pull your face upwards daily, helping to combat the sagging effect of gravity on your face.
But, what about laugh lines, you might ask?
Well, you’re going to get wrinkles at some point. We think that a face lined with laugh lines is preferable to one marked by worry lines!
Smiling Projects Confidence
Are you up for a job interview soon? Maybe you’ll be asking for a raise soon or branching out and starting your own company. Whatever life situation you might be facing, it will benefit you if people see you as a confident (not arrogant) individual.
How do you do that? Flash them your pearly whites!
People relate a smile with confidence. There’s a reason many con men are known for their dazzling smiles. Not only does a strong smile instantly make a person more likable, but also projects confidence that they really do know what they are talking about.
Of course, we’re not advocating that you become a white-collar criminal, but illustrating the profound effect that a smile can have on how people view you.
So, the next time you want to seem more confident, beautiful, and even trustworthy, pull out your most dazzling smile and watch it go to work.
Taking a Break From It All
Sometimes we forget to focus on our mental health. We exercise to stay fit, but the less visible mental health gets pushed to the back of our minds.
However, it’s amazing the profound effect that something as simple as a smile has on our wellbeing — both mentally and physically. Try it today and watch how your world changes a little bit at a time!
What is an underlying factor in a wide range of diseases and medical conditions?
What gets your heart racing both when it should and it shouldn’t?
The answer to all these questions is stress. Unfortunately, Americans are experiencing far too much of it these days. An astonishing 94% of American workers feel stressed at work and 83% suffer as a result. Furthermore, work-related stress is reported to cause 120,000 deaths and rack up $190 billion in healthcare costs each year.
And that’s only one source of stress!
Feeling a little stressed just reading this intro? Maybe it’s time to slow down and learn some effective ways of managing stress before things get worse. Check out our favorite tips for reducing stress here.
What Is Stress?
Before we dive in, let’s look at why learning to handle your stress properly is so essential.
First, you need to understand that not all stress is bad. Stress in some cases is actually good for us. It is designed to help us reach our goals in life and even protect ourselves from danger.
For example, the fight or flight response that you feel in a dangerous situation is stress. It motivates you to get out of the situation quickly or empowers you to fight your way out, if necessary.
It is also activated when you know you have a big work project due tomorrow, but haven’t finished. For some people, the idea of being stressed by an approaching deadline motivates them to finish their project well ahead of time. For others, the stress itself spurs them on to do their best work.
Regardless of which type of person you are, stress helps you get it done. A stressed state for a short period of time can help you concentrate and even have residual effects such as boosting the immune system.
Why Is Stress so Bad?
The problem is when you live in that stressed state long-term. The effects that stress and anxiety have on your body are supposed to be short-term to deal with the immediate situation and are not conducive to healthy living.
For example, stress routes your body’s resources to the systems you need to address the immediate situation. In a fight-or-flight situation, you’ll breathe harder to flood your brain with more oxygen, your muscles will tense, and your heart will beat faster — all to ready your body for a physical response to danger. In doing this, the body dampens other functions such as the digestive system, immune system, and other functions that are not essential to face the current threat.
However, these functions are essential long-term for leading a healthy life. Plus, this heightened state is not very conducive to getting a good night’s sleep and lack of sleep leads to a laundry list of health problems.
Chronic stress takes a heavy toll on the body as evidenced by the fact that stress is linked to the top 6 killers in the US:
Coronary heart disease
Cirrhosis of the liver
When we confront this sobering information, it becomes clear that we all need to take a step and reevaluate our hectic, stressed lifestyles. It’s time to alleviate some of that stress.
Top Tips for Handling Stress
What are some of the best methods for handling stress? It’s unlikely that most of us will drop everything and spend the rest of our lives smelling the roses. However, here are some practical ways that you can reduce your stress and still live the full, energetic life you love.
1. Get Some Exercise
No, your doctor isn’t paying us to say this, but if he’s been telling you to get more exercise, we definitely recommend taking his advice. Getting consistent exercise is arguably the number one “treatment” you can use to help yourself live a long, happy life.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which are sometimes referred to as the “feel-good chemicals”. They help lift your spirits, put you in a better frame of mind, and calm the anxiety you feel inside. Rhythmic exercises such as swimming laps or running can also serve as a type of meditation in motion. If you’ve ever gone for a run when feeling frustrated, you’ll know exactly what we mean.
Exercise also heightens many of the same systems as stress. Regular exercise gives your body practice in returning to a normal state after a spike of activity. It also makes you physically tired, which helps you sleep. A good night’s sleep does wonders for a stressed-out mind.
Plus, you’ll feel better about yourself. There really isn’t a downside, so get up and move! Even just 30 minutes of vigorous activity every other day or so will make a huge difference.
2. Spend Some Time in Nature
There’s a huge stress-reliever all around us that many of us never make time to take advantage of. Nature itself is chock full of things that have a positive effect on our bodies and helps alleviate stress.
Being in nature slows the production of stress hormones, reduces your blood pressure, slows your heart rate, and helps to calm your mind overall — all of which helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
In fact, this study found that spending just 20-30 minutes in nature provoked the biggest drop in cortisol levels, a measure of stress.
As a bonus, spend that 20 minutes walking or jogging around your local park for a double dose of exercise and nature immersion.
3. Get More Sleep
Lack of sleep is a huge issue when it comes to feeling stressed. Adults who get less than 8 hours of sleep each night consistently report feeling more stressed and experiencing other negative consequences such as being short on patience and losing their temper. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle because feeling stressed can keep you up at night and the resulting lack of sleep makes you feel more stressed.
How do you break it?
Start with our first two tips. Getting some exercise and spending time in nature will help you feel more tired and calm your mind for sleep. For the last few hours before bed, avoid using electronic devices as much as possible. The blue light emitted from these devices suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us feel sleepy.
Finally, set a schedule for sleep and stick to it. Carve out enough time and make sleep a priority. You might be surprised how much more productive you are when you’ve had enough sleep!
4. Eat a Balanced Diet
In general, foods can either help you or harm you. They can nourish your body with the proper nutrients that you need to feel alert and think clearly, or they can make your body feel sluggish and cloud your mind. The foods you choose to eat can even affect your mood and, yes, your stress level.
As you might have guessed, we’re not going to be recommending the typical comfort foods people reach for when they feel stressed. In fact, there’s another vicious cycle here. People often reach for sugary snacks when they feel stressed, but sugar consumption may contribute to higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
A balanced diet and including some foods in particular in your diet has a calming effect on stress. For example, eating oatmeal helps reduce stress hormones and boosts serotonin, a calming chemical. Camomile or mint tea both seem to help alleviate stress and are great for helping you sleep when enjoyed before bed. In general, look for these nutrients to help alleviate stress naturally:
Vitamin C (citrus fruits)
Magnesium (spinach and other leafy greens, salmon)
Complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, and veggies)
Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, nuts, and seeds)
So, instead of letting your anxiety drive you to eat more sweets, take charge of your diet. You just might find both your anxiety and your desire to eat more sugar slowly melting away.
5. Make Time for Leisure
If you are like many Americans these days, you don’t feel adequate if you aren’t being productive. You have a million things on your to-do list and it only seems to get longer even as you check items off.
We aren’t designed to live life at 100 miles an hour. Take some time to slow down. Say no to a new project, let go of some responsibilities that are only weighing you down anyway. Make some time for leisure. All of the things on the following list help reduce your stress levels in large or small ways:
Life is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t get so caught up in the things that make up days that you don’t spend your time enjoying it.
If you find that you need some time to relax and enjoy some peace in a controlled environment, you may want to consider our recovery oasis at Tikvah Lake. Enjoy a 200-acre lake, pool and spa, miles of nature trails, and private therapy — all designed to help you enjoy life the way it was meant to be enjoyed.