Do you ever find yourself looking at a smiling picture of Julia Roberts and smiling back? Well that is the power of a bright sunny smile.
Strack, et al conducted a study way back in 1988. He asked people to rate humour in cartoons while holding a pencil between their teeth. Whichever way you hold the pencil between your teeth it would force you to smile. Another set of participants were told to hold the pencil between their lips without touching it with their teeth. Try this and you would realise your muscles frown when you do so. It was found that participants who smiled judged the cartoons as funnier than participants who were led to frown. It was hence inferred that smile, even a forced one, sends happy signals to the brain.
Another study published in Pysch Central concludes, “The researchers say that their findings suggest smiling during brief periods of stress may help reduce the body’s stress response, regardless of whether the person actually feels happy or not.” When you smile your brain genuinely feels that you are happy.
How it works?
A smile is which both the corners of the mouth are raised is the one that creates this positive effects. These smiles engage the muscles in the mouth, cheeks, and eyes and are considered to be genuine smiles.
Psychologists go to the extent of saying that when you smile at someone and they smile back – you are in fact helping in creating positive changes in them too.
As to how the smile therapy works, when the brain finds out that you are enjoying something or liking something, it raise your mouth’s corners into a smile by default. In the same way, if you raise your mouth’s corner, brain believes that you are happy and the pleasure hormone called endorphin gets released in the brain. And the outcome is a true, natural smile.
So smile and make a difference. In case of an anxiety disorder, you have to try harder and be more persistent in smiling without reason, for the brain to begin responding.
This in a way is the sum total of smile therapy.
Benefits of smiling
- Here is small list of benefits of smiling. Of course you would know a thousand more already.
- A smile makes us attractive to others. It works both ways. Do we all not appreciate people with a ready smile and a sunny disposition?
- As mentioned in the research findings above, it is a great mood changer. Smile in difficult situations and it would help in improving the way you are feeling.
- Smile has a contagious effect. Your smile can be a mood lifter for you as well as for those it is targeted at.
- Smile is a stress buster. A happy signal to the brain relaxes it, reducing the stress levels.
- It is believed that smiling can actually boost Immune System.
- There is evidence that ample smiling can keep your blood pressure under control
- And most important of all, and perhaps the reason of all the benefits mentioned above, smiling releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers. It also releases serotonin, associated with feel good feelings.
A simple early morning exercise
There are a number of simple exercises that you can do to set the tone of your day. Below early morning exercise is definitely worth a try:
Duration: one minute
Time: As soon as you wake up
Smile when you inhale
Relax your entire body while exhaling
If you have time, you can extend it to up to five minutes. It works.