Something to Smile About: The Healthy Effects of a Happy Face

The Healthy Effects of a Happy Face

“When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” The song made famous by Louis Armstrong oh so many years ago may be old, but the sentiment endures. A smile has a positive effect on both the person doing the smiling, as well as the people who gaze at the grin. Take a look at the many ways a smile can boost your health and the spirits of those around you.

A Positive Jolt of Endorphins

Whenever you smile, the movement of your facial muscles triggers the release of tiny molecules known as neuropeptides, which communicate with all parts of your body, as well as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitters. This happy, all-natural concoction flows through your body and mind, producing positive sensations that can relieve stress and even work as an antidepressant. That’s a pretty powerful perk! While a genuine smile that wrinkles your nose and eyes is best, even a fake smile will work.

Keeps Blood Pressure in Check

Smiling and laughter both have a positive effect on blood pressure. This stems from a brief increase in heart rate followed quickly by stabilization. Muscles also relax as a result of laughter and smiling. Over time, this can lead to a healthier, more consistent blood pressure.

Gives Your Immune System a Boost

Those three helpful neurotransmitters, whose de-stressing super powers help spark positive thoughts, promote immune health as well. When you’re focused on negative thoughts, you release a chain of chemical reactions that can bring more stress into your system and suppress your immunity. But smiling, and the positive thoughts come with them, release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially stave off illnesses. Also, laughter increases your intake of oxygen-rich air, which is great for your internal organs.

It’s Contagious

Just like Mr. Armstrong’s point in the song, your smile is infectious and can spread good vibes to those around you. This happens through humans natural inclination to mimic the facial expressions of those around them. When you’re smiling, and you encounter someone else, they “try on” your expression as an instinctive way of connecting with you. Their ability to mimic your expression can result in feeling some of the same feelings you’re experiencing, leading to better social interactions.

If all that is not enough to cause a little smirk to sneak across your face, smiling has been shown to make you more attractive--but only if you’re a woman.

Whether you genuinely smile or you decide to make your best effort at faking one, you’ll likely reap some positive rewards, both in terms of how you feel on the inside, and how people respond to you on the outside. Not feeling so confident about your smile? Be sure to see your dentist to keep your teeth in top shape, or find a dentist near you and schedule a visit.

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