A smile is a universally understood facial expression that everyone can appreciate. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, you are more likely to gravitate towards someone with a friendly smile, and conversely, it can help you appear more personable and attractive to others. The value of a smile doesn’t end at improving personal relationships though. As supported by a body of research, smiling can also boost your psychological and physical health.
Let’s check out some of these amazing benefits:
1. Strengthens Your Immune System
Our immune system is a network of tissues, cells, proteins and organs that are constantly and collectively protecting us against infections and diseases. The effects of lifestyle habits such as exercise, diet and psychological stress on the immune system are well documented.1 The act of smiling releases neuropeptides – otherwise known as “feel-good” molecules – that help to ward off stress.2
When you flash a smile, the flood of neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphin are released, making you feel more relaxed while lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.2 They also serve as anti-depressants that are 100% organic.2
2. Lowers Stress and Heart Rates
A 2012 study further suggests that smiling is a great way to cope with life stresses. In this particular case, even a fake smile helps. Published in Psychological Science, the study conducted by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman of the University of Kansas found that smiling during brief periods of stress may help reduce the body's stress response, regardless of whether the person actually feels happy or not.3
The findings are based on a test of 169 volunteers who are asked to perform stress-inducing tasks while holding their faces in a manner instructed.3 Participants instructed to smile – whether wearing genuine or Duchenne smile – had lower heart rates as opposed to those who held neutral expressions.3
3. Encourages Youthfulness
Want to look several years younger? A Berlin-based research from Max Planck Institute found that smiley folk look more youthful to others than their solemn looking counterparts. In the study, 150 men and women were shown mug shots of individuals and asked to guess their ages.4 The findings, based on their hunches looking at over 1000 photographs, found that happy faces were voted as the youngest looking.4
4. Increases Life Expectancy
Smiling is probably the easiest and most direct form of showing your positive side to others as well as reinforcing a positive mindset. A person that operates from a negative self-belief may experience digestive problems, high blood pressure, weight problems, eating disorders, esteem challenges and sleep deprivation5 – all of which can lead to serious medical ailments and lower life expectancy. If a smile can help you to lower stress and strengthen your immune system, as shown above, these are all factors that contribute positively to your life expectancy.
5. Enhances Attractiveness
A 2011 study from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland suggests that both men and women find people who made eye contact and smiled more attractive than those who did not.2 This reinforced another study published in Neuropsychologia suggesting that looking at a smiling face activates the part in your brain that process sensory rewards.2 That is to say, people may actually feel rewarded when you smile at them.2
When you condense all the above research and findings, you discover not only new attributes of smiling, but how a simple facial expression brings with it a world of unexpected rewards.
Your smile is an invaluable asset. If you’re looking for ways to enhance the attractiveness of your smile, please contact Sailors Bay Dentistry for a consultative appointment at (02) 9958 0400.
1. "How to boost your immune system." Harvard Health. June 15, 2016 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.
2. Riggio, Ronald E. "There's Magic In Your Smile." Psychology Today. June 25, 2012. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile.
3. Catharine Paddock. "Smiling Reduces Stress And Helps The Heart." Medical News Today. August 01, 2012. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248433.php.
4. Hazell, Kyrsty Jade. "The New Anti-Ageing Secret... And It's Free." HuffPost UK. January 16, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/10/smiling-makes-you-look-two-years-younger_n_1085672.html.
5. Ross, Irene. "Smile! Surprisingly Easy Ways to Boost Immunity." The Huffington Post. March 10, 2015. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/irene-ross/turn-that-frown-upside-do_b_6823472.html.