We spend billions of dollars every year in the U.S. on dieting and improving our looks, yet one of the easiest ways to improve our health, our mood, and even increase life expectancy is completely free! The simple act of smiling does a lot more than simply let the world know we’re happy. It reduces stress, increases productivity and boosts our immune system, among others. See these 12 surprising health benefits of smiling:
- Lowers Your Blood Pressure: The physical act of smiling measurably slows your heart rate and relaxes your body. This lets your heart work without overworking. People who smile and laugh often are less likely to develop heart disease.
- Reduces Stress: Stress is a common problem that causes a variety of serious health problems, yet stress relief may be as simple as smiling a little more throughout the day. Smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers and serotonin that counteract and diminish the stress hormones.
- Improves your Mood: The endorphins and serotonin do more than counteract stress – they also lift your mood. Feeling depressed or anxious? Pin a smile to your face! Even if it isn’t entirely genuine at first, smiling is a contagious mood booster that’s automatically returned by at least 50% of those around you, which in turn will lift your mood.
- Increases Productivity: Smiling has been shown to increase productivity while performing tasks. When we’re stressed, our body kicks into fight-or-flight mode, narrowing our attention so that we’re only focusing on one thing. Smiling counteracts this and widens our attention, making multitasking easier and opening us to insights that come from the edges of our perception.
- Encourages Trust: Studies show that we are more trusting of others when they smile genuinely. Trust is an important part of social health when dealing with people, whether they’re loved ones, coworkers or just acquaintances.
- Encourages Empathy: When we’re embarrassed, our first response is often a smile. This instinctive reaction breaks through the initial shock of embarrassment and promotes leniency in what others think of us. An embarrassed smile engenders a sense of empathy, since we’ve all experienced embarrassment, and we want to smile along.
- Lessens Pain: Smiling and laughter both have been shown to lessen pain. Those same endorphins and serotonin that lift our moods and counteract stress also act as natural painkillers, too.
- Makes Us Beautiful: Smiling makes people more attractive. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away, but a smile draws in the people around us, making us more attractive to them. This seems to be especially true for women; Men are more likely to approach a woman who smiles than one who simply makes eye contact.
- Increases Chances of Success: A smile can help you appear confident, self-assured, and on top of your work. Those who smile in the workplace are more likely to earn more money through tips and raises. They are more readily approached with business ideas and offered advancements.
- Makes You Look Younger: The muscles we use to smile naturally lift the face, and in studies they’ve been shown to make people look noticeably younger – around 3 years younger on average. Before thinking about a face lift, try smiling your way through the day first.
- Increases Longevity: Is smiling the fountain of youth? People who smile more often live longer — around 7 years longer than those who don’t smile often, according to one study! Smiling releases stress, helps the heart by reducing blood pressure, and much more to extend your lifespan.
- Boosts Immune System: Smiling help the body relax, and this allows the immune system react more quickly and effectively against invaders. Worried about the cold or flu? Give your immune system a boost with a big smile.
Do you know of any more health benefits of smiling? We’d love to hear them! Smiling’s not the only activity that can help keep the doctor away — see these Top 10 Health Benefits of Laughter.
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