No matter what you call it, a smile, smirk, or grin there is no doubt about it, the feel-good facial expression of happiness and contentment truly offers some real-world health benefits. And there is no better time than the 2021 New Year to start off fresh with a healthy new outlook. Since the pandemic, we have all become a great deal more aware of our health. But can smiling really help? Absolutely!
“Social cues are more important now than ever,” said Dr. Razdolsky of Forever Smiles Orthodontics for Children and Adults in Buffalo Grove. “A beaming smile behind a mask lights up the eyes and communicates to others that everything is A-okay. It helps others to feel safe, secure, and happy. It is also important to smile often in online video communication as it too sends a message of encouragement and positivity to others that is contagious,” he added.
For example, have you ever been in a less than happy state and run into someone who’s smiling only to find yourself in a better mood? Maybe even with a smile all your own? It’s no secret smiling is contagious, and not only is it a great gift to give yourself and others, it has other great health benefits worth sharing as well! A smile doesn’t just offer a great mood boost, it also helps our body release dopamine, serotonin, cortisol and endorphins. These can reduce blood pressure, increase endurance, reduce pain, lessen stress, and even strengthen our immune system. Further, studies indicate people who smile more are more likeable, courteous, and competent.
“Research suggests children smile an astonishing 400 times per day. If you account for an average eight hours of sleep each night, that works out to a smile every 2.5 minutes,” said Dr. Razdolsky. “However, if you contrast that to an average adult who only smiles 20 times a day (40 to 50 if they are truly happy), then you can see why we could all use a little more cheer.”
Indeed, not only is there the chemical release to boost your health, smiling actually helps you stay positive. If you don’t believe it, just try this... smile and then try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard. Even when a smile is forced or fake it sends the brain a message that life is good. Now imagine sharing that smile (a genuine one of course) with the rest of the world.
So, what’s new in 2021? Practice smiling every day and see your happiness and wellbeing increase with the New Year. And what’s even better than that, is giving someone else a smile or two? It’s the healthy resolution that’s easy to keep.