Practice smiling? Why on earth would you want to do that? It is condescending when you’re at work and a co-worker says, “Smile, you look grumpy.” What does it matter if you look grumpy? Turns out that it matters a lot. Maybe that co-worker knows something you don’t.

There is a scientific basis that smiling is good for both our emotional and physical beings.

Why Practice Smiling?

Sometimes smiling comes naturally. We witness something funny. Uncle George tells the same lame joke he tells every Thanksgiving. Sometimes we smile just because someone smiled at us and wished us a good day. Unfortunately, the world isn’t always a joy-producing place.

With everything working against us, learning how to practice smiling can have profound effects on our entire body. Sometimes we just need a little pick-me-up to get through a rough day. Whatever reason is behind your need for a smile, the result is always good.

Although it would be awesome to reclaim a bit of our youth, we can’t go back in time. Children smile about 400 times per day while adults may eke out a measly 40 to 50 smiles a day if they are happy. Normal people average about 20 smiles per day! We can, however, practice smiling more.

What Smiling Does to Your Body and Mind

The act of smiling begins a chemical chain reaction in your body. The movement of facial muscles, particularly the zygomaticus major (the “smile” muscle), instructs the brain to release neuropeptides. The three most common are endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These little messengers travel through our bodies doing magical things.

Endorphins act as natural pain relievers, which also help to reduce stress. This can also lower blood pressure and have a good effect on your heart rate.

Serotonin and dopamine are your body’s anti-depressants. When you smile and your brain releases these “feel good” chemicals you feel, at least momentarily, a little happier.

Although smiles aren’t a cure-all for everything that ails us, they are a great starting point. Smiles are 100 percent free, easily accessible, and they can spread from one person to the next to create a cacophony of mirth. This is one contagion we like to spread!

Smiling Makes Your Workday Better Too

People who smile seem to have wonderful lives. They have good jobs, great families, they finish their to-do list every day. Everyone seems to like them. It may surprise you that smiling is beneficial to workplace productivity.

Happy workers make the entire work environment more pleasant.

Practice Smiling to Improve Your Immune System

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all looking for ways to improve our immune systems. Surprisingly, you don’t need extra vitamins or a healthy diet (although those also help). Smiling can help to boost your immune system.

When we smile or laugh, part of the chemical chain reaction from our brain releases infection-fighting antibodies. These increase our immune cells and our ability to resist illnesses. The benefits of laughter have been compared to the benefits of exercise for improving our immune system.

Improve Your Overall Health

There are many other ways that smiling has a positive impact on your entire body.

Endorphins create an improved mood. When you smile, the muscle movement helps make you feel happier, even if it is a fake smile!

We mentioned pain relief earlier. It has been documented that smiling or laughing decreases pain. Think about taking a spill on an icy sidewalk. If you grumble, it really hurts. If you laugh about how silly you looked going down, you can get up, brush yourself off, and go on about your day. If there happens to be video evidence it’s even better!

Although it is not a substitute for prescribed blood pressure medications if you need them, smiling can lower your blood pressure. When you laugh, there is a momentary rise in blood pressure which triggers an increase in blood flow. As the chemicals from your brain travel through your body, your stress levels decrease along with your blood pressure and heart rate.

Happy people tend to have better relationships, both at work and home. Smiling makes us more likable and more approachable. Having and maintaining better relationships tends to have a good effect on your whole being.

People who smile more tend to look younger. We often associate happiness with youth, so a happy person must be younger, right? Although this one might be just an illusion or trick of the mind, appearing younger is usually not a bad thing in anyone’s life!

Give Yourself a Reason to Smile

Sometimes you just have a horrible day and it is difficult to muster a smile. Those are the days when you need a smile the most! Finding something to smile about might take a bit of effort, but you can do it!

Start with happy memories. Whatever brought you happiness is fair game to bring on a smile when you need it. If you have difficulty using images from your past, you can find plenty of resources in the present day.

Watch a funny movie or TV show. Go to the nearest local comedy show. Spend time with friends or family.

Are your neighbor’s children playing and laughing in their yard? Smile as you watch them have fun. Take a trip to the zoo and watch the antics of the monkeys. No matter where you are, there is always a way to find a small spark of happiness.

How to Practice Smiling More

Look in a mirror. Smile at yourself. Did your reflection smile back at you? See. It’s already working. If you need to practice smiling more to add joy and laughter back into your life there are lots of ways to get help.

Doctors and therapists are recognizing the benefits of smiling and are actually prescribing laugh workshops, laugh yoga, laugh therapy, and even goats. Yes, goats are almost always doing something silly and we can’t help but laugh at them.

There are laugh groups that meet regularly to just laugh. One person starts the merriment, usually with a really bad fake laugh. Someone else laughs at how horrible the first laugh was.

Pretty soon everyone is holding their side, with tears streaming down their cheeks. What started as a bad fake laugh evolves into a true, belly-jiggling round of genuine laughter. It is really good medicine.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you aren’t quite ready to step out and practice smiling more because you don’t like your smile, Northeastern Braces can help. With braces or Invisalign treatment, the doctors at Northeastern Braces will have your smile picture-perfect in no time.

It is easy to schedule your Free Consultation using our online form. If you would rather speak directly to a Scheduling Coordinator you may call our Bronx office at (917) 801 3600 or the Newburgh office at (845) 863 0500. We proudly serve the entire area with braces, Invisalign, and general orthodontic care.

Please check out our Orthodontic Blog for more information about our services, dental care tips, and more.

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