4 Ways Smiling More Often Can Improve Your Health

Smiles are the most venerated of facial expressions; in a split second a smile can communicate joy, amusement, desire, and a vast multitude of other positive feelings. In addition to radiating positivity into the world, smiles can actually improve your health. Here’s why you should try to smile more.

1. Smiling Makes You Happy

We tend to think of smiling as a result of happiness, a physical manifestation of inner joy or mirth. It turns out, however, that it works both ways: not only does happiness cause smiling—smiling can cause happiness, too. The simple act of smiling, regardless of how you actually feel inside, tells your brain that you’re happy, which in turn releases the feel-good endorphins associated with happiness. A recent study on Botox recipients showed that this principle not only applies to positive feelings but to negative ones as well; quelling one’s ability to express displeasure (e.g. not being able to frown due to Botox) actually makes that person feel less displeasure. Unfortunately, this also means that Botox recipients may feel less joy because their ability to smile is diminished as well. Long story short, smiling really can make you happy, so do it as often as possible.

2. Better Social Life = Better Mental Health

People are attracted to positivity, and what better way to project positivity into the world than with a smile? With more people who want to be around you, you’re more likely to have an active, fulfilling social life, which is essential in staving off depression, anxiety, and loneliness. People with good mental health are more likely to be physically healthy and live longer than those who spend their lives mired in mental darkness. What it all boils down to: smiling more will enhance your social relationships, which will in turn help you live longer and stay healthier.

3. Anxiety Buster

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by anxiety? Most of us have experienced that icky, panicky feeling that can stop you in your tracks. Luckily, smiling can help. For the same reasons that the mere act of smiling can make you feel happy, it can also help you fight off anxiety. Smiling might be the last thing you would consider doing when in the throes of an anxiety attack, but give it a try anyway. Smiling through stress or anxiety also appears to have positive effects on the heart. A recent study found that participants who engaged in activities designed to frustrate them saw their increased heart rates return to normal much more quickly if they smiled for the duration of their recovery time. The next time something is stressing you out, smile to keep both your head and your heart happy and healthy.

4. Dental Hygiene Motivator

It’s normal to take liberties with your dental hygiene—after all, who flosses every single night? Dental health is incredibly important, however, and some of us need all the motivation we can get in order to really keep our teeth and gums clean. Smiling often means showing off your chompers to the world, and healthy teeth are pretty teeth. Show off your best smile by visiting the dentist’s office regularly, where a dental assistant can get your teeth gleaming and bright, and by following good dental hygiene principles, which include brushing and flossing with abandon and avoiding foods that can damage or stain your teeth.

Madeline Marshall is an avid smiler and freelance writer based out of northern California.

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