Smiles come in all shapes and sizes. They can be playful, sly, mysterious or beaming. They communicate volumes without saying a word.
This simple action might also improve your mental and physical well-being. Here are seven reasons why smiling is good for your health.
1. It Makes You Pay Attention to Oral Hygiene
In America, people tend to treat oral health as an afterthought or a luxury. Your teeth even need a separate insurance policy. However, what happens in your mouth impacts your overall health portrait.
For example, researchers have discovered antibodies of the oral bacteria P. gingivalis in the brains of people who have died from Alzheimer’s disease. These germs can cluster with other harmful invaders to destroy neural cells — and memory.
Likewise, these bacteria can increase your cardiovascular disease risk. They increase inflammation within your arteries and veins, upping your chances of a heart attack and stroke.
Fortunately, smiling makes you pay close attention to oral hygiene. After all, you want to look your best when you beam your pearlies at that cutie. It also reminds you to brush your tongue, as bacteria can hide here and multiply, causing bad breath. Wanting to feel fresh to lean in for a kiss can result in improved health overall.
2. It Instantly Boosts Your Spirits
Think about the last time you were in a low mood. Sometimes, putting on a comedy or even looking at funny memes can bust the blues. Science can explain why.
When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides that cue your brain to up its production of certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin. It also stimulates your endorphins, natural body chemicals that work like opioids to decrease pain and boost your mood.
Smiling can also help you recover from stressful situations more quickly. According to research from “Psychological Science,” faking a grin can decrease physical manifestations of stress, such as elevated heart rate. The effect occurred even when the test subject didn’t report feeling genuine happiness.
3. It Makes You More Approachable
Have you ever held back, hesitating to approach someone with a question because they appeared distant, maybe even hostile or irritable? While you can’t always read a person’s mood from their facial expressions, it generally offers clues. If you want to appear more approachable, a smile signals to others, “You can talk to me.”
Therefore, smiling can help you grow your social circle. Doing so can have multiple health benefits.
Loneliness can kill. Studies show that it increases the chances of mortality from all causes. However, appearing more approachable can help you meet new friends, even if you’re naturally shy. People will feel more comfortable opening up to you when you seem friendly.
4. It Alters Your Hormonal Levels
The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol can wreak havoc on your overall health. Although they kick in to give you the energy you need to escape danger, you can’t run from modern threats like looming rent payments the way primitive humans once raced from hungry lions. All that extra oomph can increase your blood pressure and cause you to crave fatty foods — which further throws your hormones out of whack.
Smiling has the power to decrease your adrenaline and cortisol levels. Without this chemical cocktail flooding your system, you’re able to think more clearly and positively. One study even demonstrated how people who got Botox injections that prevented them from frowning reported higher happiness levels than those who could make a sad face.
5. It Decreases Chronic Pain
Smiling releases endorphins. These natural body chemicals work similarly to opioids for relieving pain. However, you can’t get addicted since you produce them yourself.
Smiling might be one of the easiest ways to improve your immune system if you run an elevated risk of severe complications from COVID-19 due to medical conditions. Your brain and immunity share a complex relationship. Depression makes you more prone to getting sick, while smiles and laughter have the opposite effect.
6. It Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Cardiovascular disease carries off more men and women worldwide than any other ailment. One of the risk factors is hypertension or high blood pressure. Exposure to daily stressors, excessive salt and alcohol intake and extra weight can all make your numbers rise.
Smiling can help reduce your blood pressure. One study in Japan showed that those who took part in laugh-yoga sessions decreased their numbers by up to 5 milligrams of mercury. If you want to get a better reading the next time you have a checkup, try beaming at your doctor.
7. It Helps You Live Longer
By lowering your disease risk, smiling can help you live longer. Staving off heart disease alone is a good reason to shine your pearlies at anyone who crosses your path.
Your mental health also affects your lifespan. Happier, more optimistic people have better health outcomes in general than pessimists.
Smiling Is Good for Your Health
You have the power to improve your well-being right on your face. Smiling is good for your health, so let your joy shine for the world to see.