There’s a good reason why some people will tell you to turn that frown upside down, even though that is not always what we want to hear. Studies have shown that just the act of smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system, and could even prolong your life. You might be thinking, happiness is what makes us smile, not the other way around, but as Dr. Isha Gupta, a neurologist from IGEA Brain and Spine explained, a smile causes a chemical reaction in the brain and releases hormones including dopamine and serotonin. “Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness, and serotonin is associated with reduced stress.” Low levels of both of them are associated with depression.
So actually, smiling can trick your brain into believing your happy, which can bring on actual feelings of happiness. Dr. Murray Frossan, an ENT-otolaryngologist, states that studies have shown “over and over” again that depression can weaken your immune system, and happiness can have the opposite effect, boosting your body’s resistance. An interesting study performed by a group at the University of Cerdiff in Wales found that people who had botox injections so they could not frown were happier on average than those who frown. A study done at the University of Kansas published findings that smiling helps reduce the body’s response to stress and lowers heart rate in tense situations.
Smiling is contagious, much like yawning. It is because we have mirror neurons when we see actions according to Dr. Eva Ritzo, a psychiatrist and the co-author of “The Beauty Prescription: The Complete Formula for Looking and Feeling Beautiful.” Some people have started smiling when they can feel like they are beginning to feel stressed out, smiling does help. For instance, when they are in traffic while driving, they are uncomfortable due to a headache, during a workout, at themselves in a mirror, and when they are tired saying it makes them feel calmer. Of course, smiling does not always do the trick, and it should never take the place of other forms of therapy that may be necessary depending on the situation, but it is worth the try.