Smiling Is A Natural Stress Buster

Stress Relief Techniques

It's natural and cost nothing to smile. Most of us enjoy being around people when they are smiling. So why don't we smile more than we do. Perhaps it's the daily buildup of stress in our life. However, did you know that smiling can actually help reduce our stress levels? It is a great natural stress buster. Also, did you know that not all smiles are equal? Let's examine the facts.

What does the research say about smiling?

Recent research indicates a number of factors when studying smiles and facial expressions. Read some of the outstanding facts that were discovered: Involuntary facial movement drives emotional expression.
Facial expression affects emotional expression and behavior.
Facial expression affects moods, i.e. an improved mood by smiling.
Angry facial expression increases blood flow to extremities.

In another study, people were asked to hold a pencil between their teeth while watching cartoons. Some were allowed to smile with the pencil in their mouth; others were not. In rating the cartoons, those that were smiling with the pencil in their mouth found the cartoons much funnier than the other group. There was a positive correlation between watching the cartoon while smiling.

What are the natural stress busting effects of smiling?

Our brain normally uses 24% of our oxygen. Long-term smiling creates an additional 10% of oxygen and glucose into the bloodstream. This in turn energizes, improves learning, and increases memory. Learning and memory actually uses and needs an additional 10% of oxygen. Smiling gives you that extra oxygen and competitive edge. Depending on your occupation, having the edge can reduce stress.

Here are additional stress-busting benefits of smiling:

Breathing from the diaphragm; less shallow breathing.
It's hard to be angry when smiling.
Long-term smiling reduces distress, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Smiling can turn around a negative mood.
Lowers blood pressure by 10—18%
Activates endorphins (the body's natural pain killers).
Triggers Serotonins, (neurotransmitters in the brain) promotes a calmer mood.

Not all Smiles are Equal!

In order for you to receive all the stress busting effects of smiling, you must have a genuine smile; not a fake smile. What does that mean?

The smile you want is referred to as the Echt smile or the Duchenne smile. This smile involves the movement of the corners of the mouth, cheek muscles, and areas around the eyes. The Echt smile or the Duchenne smile comes from the limbic system; the emotional center of the brain. This is a spontaneous smile that lights up your face. This is a natural stress buster that will help you cope with the daily stresses in your life.

The "fake smile" is referred to as the Pan-Am smile. It was labeled that years back by those in the airline industry. It only uses the muscles in the corners of the mouth. Many times this is the smile you see in photographs.

Smile your stress away!

I'd like to tell you to ease into smiling—but I don't think it's possible. You will get the hang of it. Over time it will be so natural, you'll wonder how you ever got by with that awful frown on your face. Also, don't be surprised if others around you start smiling too. It is contagious. Just keep smiling…smile your stress away!

Be sure and check out our other site: Tidbits for Healthy Living for even more healthy ideas.

Medical Disclaimer: No diagnosis, medical advice, or cure is impressed or implied - Consult your doctor.