The Surprising Health Benefits of Smiling (and Laughing)
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A genuine smile can go a long way—it can make you seem more attractive, likable, trustworthy, and even intelligent. But what you may not know is that smiling more often can actually improve your overall health and help you live longer. At Prescott Dentistry, keeping your smile healthy is our top priority—and we hope a healthy smile will give you the confidence to flash those pearly whites more often! Here are some of the surprising health benefits of smiling:
1. Puts you in a better mood.
Smiling can boost your mood when you’re feeling down—even if you don’t feel like smiling. There is also research to show that smiling may be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression. This 2010 study found that making yourself smile when you’re feeling blue helps improve your mood. When we smile, the movements of our muscles send signals to our brains. These signals release neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, which are known as the “feel-good” chemicals of the brain.
2. Improves stress levels and lowers blood pressure.
A 2015 study published in Psychological Science found that smiling can lower the heart rate while performing stressful tasks.
Smiling and laughing also appear to help lower your blood pressure. A 2009 review found that laughter caused an initial increase in heart rate, followed by a period of muscle relaxation and a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. This helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
3. Can lead to healthier relationships.
A 2010 study found that people with positive emotions have more stable marriages and better interpersonal skills than people with negative emotions. This doesn’t mean you should change your personality or pretend that you aren’t feeling negative emotions—but by smiling more, you can actually shift your perspective, giving you more genuinely positive feelings.
4. Improves immune function.
According to Mayo Clinic, laughter and positive thoughts release chemicals in your brain that fight stress and illnesses, while negative thoughts decrease your body’s immunity. A 2015 study found that laughter therapy increases immune responses in women who have recently given birth.
5. Helps with pain relief.
When you smile and laugh, your body actually releases its own natural painkillers—the same “feel good” chemicals mentioned earlier. A 2012 study found that social laughter increases your pain threshold, creating a higher pain tolerance. So, if you’re in pain, try watching a funny movie, getting tickets to a comedy show, or hanging out with people who always make you smile. These activities are good for the soul and the body!
Something to Smile About
As if all of this wasn’t enough, laughing and smiling more can actually make you live longer! As members of a holistic dental office, our team at Prescott Dentistry cares about your smile, as well as your overall health and wellbeing. As you can see, smiling and laughter are beneficial for your mind, body, and overall well-being—maybe laughter really is the best medicine! We hope that sharing these health benefits of smiling with you has given you a reason to smile today. And if you’re interested, check out this laughter yoga class offered at the Adult Center of Prescott!