I am so lucky to have such beautiful people in my life like Mishaela who have a huge passion for health and wellness. Mishaela explores in this guest post the physical and mental health benefits of SMILING ☺️🤍
So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the tools we have to improve health. Heres one you may or may not be aware of.
Did you know smiling, and SEEING people smile is good for our health?
Research has shown that when people are smiling and smiling around you it has IMMUNE BOOSTING effects. 2010 Wayne State University research found that smiling and seeing people smile is so good for you that it even increases your lifespan.
When you smile your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play too. Serotonin is actually an antidepressant. So smiling not only helps your body's natural ability to fight off viruses, but it also improves your mental health.
And the benefits are contagious! One Swedish study suggests that we can’t help but react with a smile of our own when we see someone smiling.
This is likely due to the mirror neurons we have in our face. These neurons make us mimic the facial expressions of those we see around us. This is one way babies and young children learn about emotions and develop a very important part of being human, which is empathy, being able to relate and feel for others, through seeing people's facial expressions.
Empathy continues to develop and play an important role in wellbeing into adulthood. Randomized control studies have taken place that show when patients cannot see their doctors facial expressions during consultations it has a significant negative impact on the patient's perceived empathy from their doctor. This has also been reported in studies conducted with elderly in care homes, when they could not see the faces of their carers, they too, reported a reduction in empathy. A study out of the University of Bristol in England revealed that just seeing a smile can also help reduce aggression in others.
Smiling also lowers your blood pressure, which is good news for your heart health. Why is our heart health so important? Well this should be obvious, because you know, its that thing that keeps us alive. But considering a New Zealander dies every 90 minutes from heart disease, its the cause for 1 in every 3 New Zealand deaths, and the WHO says 80% of those deaths are preventable, it’s maybe something we need to pay more attention to.
University of California, San Francisco found that smiling improves mood, and that an improved mood increases people's decision making ability, creativity, and ability to find new solutions to problems. Negative emotions, such as fear, have the opposite effect on the creative centres of the brain and actually shuts down our ability to think logically and clearly.
The positive energy that forms when you are smiling and are surrounded by people who are smiling in return is a cascading effect that can improve the mental, physical and emotional health of both ourselves and others, as well the conditions we live in through creative solutions, empathy for others, and helping us cultivate a more positive spin on life.
As Buddhist author Thich Nhat Hanh said, "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."