Stress Management – It’s as easy as a SMILE!
Did you know that children smile about 400+ times a day? However, somewhere along the road to adulthood, that number dramatically reduces. On average, adults tend to smile about 14 – 20 times a day. What’s the big deal you ask? Well…a simple smile contributes to our health and well being in a big way. So the more smiles…the better!
A smile is a natural stress reliever. When we smile, neuropeptides are released into our system. Together with neurons, these tiny molecules act like neurotransmitters sending messages to our bodies. When we smile, the ‘Feel-good” neurotransmitters or brain chemicals Dopamine, Endorphins and Serotonin are all released into our system.
Dopamine contributes to the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction among other things. Endorphins act as natural pain relievers and Serotonin is a natural anti-depressant. When all 3 are released, they automatically elevate our mood, and our bodies relax.
It’s interesting to note that the brain can’t differentiate between a smile that occurs naturally when you’re happy and smile that you put on your face intentionally. The result is the same…the ‘Feel good’ neurotransmitters are released either way. A study by Kraft and Pressman had participants intentionally grin when facing stressful situations and the results showed not only elevated moods but also lower heart rates and decreased blood pressure, all of which counteract the Stress Response or the Fight & Flight reaction.
When you put on a happy face, whether it’s a smile that comes naturally because you’re feeling happy or it’s a situation where you choose to smile…it’s a great stress reliever. Something to remember next time you’re stuck in traffic. ?
Studies have also shown that smiling also has other benefits, too. Including
making you more attractive to others ( O’Doherty, J., et al. 2003) and smiling may help you live longer according to a 2010 study.
Cheers to less stress and more smiles,