How Smiling Reduces Stress

Jan 2, 2014 | Family Life

Smiling is more than an expression of how you feel. Simpling reduces stress! A smile can also have positive effects on those you smile at, and could even set the course of your day. It’s crazy how a simple action can have huge rewards. Learn more about how smiling reduces stress and the benefits smiling has on others. A little smile will do you good.

smiling reduces stress

The expression on our face

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In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book every young twenty-something should read, Dale says “The expression on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.” Not only that but Dale also mentions what Professor James V McConnell, a psychologist at the University of Michigan says about smiling, “People who smile tend to manage, teach and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children.”

A campus visit, what I saw shocked me!

A while back I visited my alma mater. When I was there I noticed something strange…no one was smiling. I even did the ‘smile test’ in the women’s restroom, you know, when you smile at someone and they smile back? Well, that’s what is supposed to happen, but it didn’t work! I felt invisible. And shocked for that matter. So I tried again in the hallway. Still nothing! When I went outside, I tried again. Not even a look in the eyes! This was getting quite comical.

When I got home from my campus visit, I told my recruiter friend who visits many college campuses what I experienced and how sad I was about the emotionless students. She told me that it isn’t just happening there, the ‘no smiling’ thing is happening on other campuses too. What the heck? Life isn’t that bad, you’re in college!

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Smiling and stress relief

Stress is a crazy and life-altering thing. We all know that stress can cause us to make poor decisions. It can make our bodies ill and imbalanced. How can we reduce stress naturally and simply? First, we need to understand how some hormones work.

Endorphins are the ‘feel good’ hormones’. They are produced in your brain to help reduce stress, relieve pain, and improve your mood. What naturally releases endorphins? Exercise can help improve your mood and reduce stress. But what if you don’t want to exercise? You can simply smile or even force a smile. Intermountain Healthcare says, “When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins come into play too. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, whereas the serotonin is an antidepressant.”

What’s the big deal about a smile?

Smiling is a natural, automatic expression we reveal when we are happy or when we feel good. Psychology Today says we pretty much need to smile to stay sane! I don’t know about you, but after a pandemic, political warfare, and pure evil, I think we all better get our Smile on.

Here’s a minor example about smiling; when I was in college I remember a time when I was walking through the Arboretum. On the way to class, a stranger smiled at me. As a natural response, I immediately smiled back. In fact, I remember my smile was over-exaggerated because I was so shocked he smiled! Throughout that day I thought of the smile moment and it honestly made my whole day! I even remember telling my roommates that some random guy smiled at me, not like a slimy-lets-go-on-a-date look, but a ‘hey, hope you’re having a nice day’ kind of smile.

Smiling makes us feel good and it boosts our confidence.

I didn’t know how to smile!

In Kindergarten I didn’t know how to smile. Yep. I had no idea. My sisters tried to teach me but I just couldn’t get the corners of my mouth to go up on cue. Who knows, maybe I was stressed as a kid? Anyway, school picture day was coming up. I desperately wanted to smile, but every time I tried, my lips clamped shut and the corners of my mouth turned down.

How did I learn to naturally smile? With lots of tickling by my sisters in front of the mirror, I finally understood the smile. By 3rd grade, I was smiling on demand. Yes, it apparently took me that long to get it down. Who would have known in my Senior year in high school I got voted ‘best smile’. 🙂 

Smile and watch what happens!

If we simply smile more often, we’re going to be happier, less stressed people. Smiling around your kids is a big one. They need to see that you are happy more often than angry. You may have to force a smile at times too, and that’s okay! You deserve to feel good and they deserve it too.

Smiling reduces stress in not only you but in others that receive your smile. Smiling says many things beyond what words, e-mails, tweets, texts, or instant messaging could say. Don’t discredit the smile. Keep on smiling before you forget how to do it, it really does make life a lot more rewarding.

All in all

When you smile, people will be curious about who you are because you look happy. People seek happiness and they want whatever is making you show your teeth. Let’s put our phones down, take our earbuds out, and pay attention to people walking to class or in the grocery store, heck even in the car next to you. Smile and see what they do in return. A little smile will do you good.

Before you go, check out these other posts about reducing stress naturally

How to Reduce Stress in your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips

Learn How to Relax: 5 Essential Must-Have Tips

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

5 Best Pieces of Advice for How to Simplify My Life

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