Smiling for Wellbeing
Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain. — Charlie Chaplin
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. — Thich Nhat Hanh
When we feel down, it can be hard to smile. We are more likely to be grumpy, get stuck in a loop of negative thoughts and might find it challenging to think positive, which might negatively impact our own wellbeing.
However, smiling is very beneficial, and it can even be the very first thing to do in order to start feeling better.
I can imagine your face right now. ‘What? What is she even talking about?’
Yes, smiling actually helps you to:
Lift up your spirit: smiling can literally boost your mood! A Japanese study from 2010 found out that smiling before or during a negative thoughts process contributes to decrease the negative mood. When you feel grumpy, give smiling a try, start with a smiling expression and it might even lead to a genuine smile! And that’s why the smiley was created in the first place! It was created by advertiser Harvey Ross Ball in 1963 for an American Insurance company, to lift up the spirit of employees who were coming to work after a merger. There is now the Harvey Ball Smile Foundation, to improve our world, one smile at a time.
Relieve stress: When you smile more often, your body is more likely to deal with stressful situations more effectively. A 2015 study reveals that participants under stress who were smiling had a lower heart rate during recovery. Smiling actually releases endorphins, which are the same hormones that are released when you exercise. And with endorphins, we feel more positive, which improves our overall wellbeing! That’s why on the stress cards that we designed for National Stress Awareness Month, one of the things we recommend doing every day for our own wellbeing is to smile! We sent them to our clients in Leeds and Yorkshire so that they could put it up on their desks and read these gentle reminders every day.
Gain productivity: When is the last time you have whistle while you were working? Like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it makes the tasks lighter, puts you in a better mood, and helps to get things done more efficiently. Now how do we do this in a work environment? If your work is desk-based, well just give it a smile! Smiling while working would have the same benefits as whistling. In the same 2015 study mentioned above, it is revealed that smiling during stressful times helps you to keep your spirit up and your thoughts positive, which results in a better focus and, consequently, a more accurate response.
Give you a sense of self-worth: smile at yourself in the mirror in the morning. And declare positive things about yourself. Because yes, you are beautiful, you are valued, you are great! Make sure you give yourself a smile regularly, you deserve it! Smiling also contributes to make us look younger, it’s a natural face lifter! So smile as often as possible!
Get you to connect with others: we are all drawn to people who smile, probably because we feel a sense of warmth coming from them. And we just want to be with positive people who are going to lift us up, not negative ones. Connecting with other is actually one of the 5 ways of wellbeing recommended by Action for Happiness. Smiling also encourages trust as we are more likely to trust positive people. Consequently, smiling contributes to creating and building stronger relationships. And smiling is contagious. Like yawning. When you see someone smiling in the street, you are likely to smile back, a genuine smile that will remain on your face even though this person is long gone. So put a smile on your face and get out there, in Leeds and elsewhere!
Start laughing: From smiling to laughing, there is a tiny step. A smile is often the introduction to a laugh. And laughing helps your physical health. Yes, it does! According to a 2009 review called ‘Laughter Prescription’, laughing helps to lower your blood pressure as the initial increase in heart rate while laughing is followed by a period of relaxation which contributes to the prevention of heart diseases. Also, laughing can improve your immune system, as positive thoughts can release ‘neuropeptides’ which help fight stress. When will our GP be ready to prescribe laughter as the best medicine? We actually organise Laughter Yoga sessions in the workplace with all these benefits. We get you to laugh and move in order to bring more oxygen to your body and brain, and make you healthier and more energetic!
We do have a question for you now: When do you usually smile? When was the last time you smiled? Sometimes we don’t event noticed that we haven’t smiled in a while. So let’s all smile this month and enhance our own wellbeing!
Leading to their festival week in May (13-18 May 2019), Leeds Wellbeing Week organises a #SmilinLeeds campaign! Post a picture of yourself smiling and tag them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget the #SmilinLeeds hashtag!
We’re looking forward to seeing all your smiling faces from Leeds and beyond!
Smile with us in Leeds! :)