by Dr. Anson Hooper, DDS, Hooper Family Dental
There’s an old adage that it takes more effort to frown than it does to smile, and although there’s little evidence to support that, we do know that smiling provides several real-life benefits.
After a long stressful day, offering a smile isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but if you can take it upon yourself to crack a smile, you’ll certainly feel better!
For many of us, a smile is the first thing we notice when meeting someone. Smiling not only offers a mood boost, but it helps our bodies release hormones that provide numerous health benefits, including:
- Reduced stress
- Reduced pain
- Reduced blood pressure
- Strengthened immune system
For many of these benefits it’s a cascading effect. When we smile, our brain releases molecules called endorphins to help fight off stress. Endorphins can act as a mild pain reliever, while other hormones released can serve as antidepressants.
It’s suggested that because of these neurotransmitters released, smiling can help us recoup faster after stressful situations and lower our heart rate. There’s even evidence that forcing a smile can boost our mood and overall happiness.
That being said, if you’re suffering from depression or anxiety you should talk to your physician immediately about the best treatment options for you.
Smiling also can play a role in the health of those around us.
We’ve already discussed how our brains react when we smile, but we’re also rewarded when we see others smile. Seeing someone else smile activates the reward center of our brain and reduces our overall stress levels.
One Swedish study suggests that we can’t help but react with a smile of our own when we see someone else smiling — so smiling is infectious!
Next time you feel like you could use a pick-me-up, try a toothy grin, and it could give you the lift you’re looking for!
And if you’re already in a good mood, pass along the good vibes by flashing those pearly whites at a stranger!