A Smile's Muscle
“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” Phyllis Diller
Most nights my husband and I take an after-dinner bike ride. It’s a good time to reconnect and catch up with what happened in each other’s day and a great way to put some distance between dinner and dessert -- a good pedaling usually pacifies the after-meal sweet tooth.
This week during our cycling ritual we cautiously approached a notorious neighborhood curve in the road – the kind of an accident-waiting-to-happen place where people often make wide, fast turns.
Well sure enough, at the same time as we made our way around the curve, an on-coming car zipped towards us, veering into our lane.
Luckily we were prepared, getting out of harm’s way just in the nick of time. I was simply relieved and thankful; my husband, however, was a little less Zen. His “flight or fight” mode triggered, he began spewing verbal (and unprintable) reactions.
That is until the car’s driver made eye contact with us, apologetically smiling. Her smile put the lid on my husband’s anger and rising blood pressure levels. He immediately forgot that “she had tried to kill us” and instead retorted: “Isn’t that nice, she smiled.”
I’ve never thought of Phyllis Diller as a self-help guru, but she was spot on: That small curve set everything straight. Because of this incident and in honor of Smile Power Day, I decided to research how smiling might help keep you, realbuzz friends, on the “straight and narrow” when pursuing your healthy living goals.
There’s a plethora of research supporting the concept that smiling relieves stress, boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and releases happy endorphins -- all good for you stuff and fodder for another post. What I also discovered was that smiling can change and even enhance your mood -- information you can use, realbuzz friends, particularly when the going gets tough.
Fake It to Make It.
Feeling crummy and not in the mood to exercise? Turn that frown upside down and hit the treadmill or pavement. It may sound trite, but the simple act of smiling signals to your brain that you’re feeling happy which causes physiological changes in your body to support positive feelings. In much the same way, frowning enhances lack of enthusiasm.
According to a University of Cardiff study, psychologists (Lewis & Bowler, 2009) found that people unable to frown (because of Botox injections) were happier, than people who could frown. The participants were twenty-five women; half had received frown-inhibiting Botox injections, whereas the other half had received alternative cosmetic therapies not affecting frown muscles. Researchers had both groups of women complete a questionnaire, measuring anxiety and depression levels. The Botox recipients reported feeling significantly happier and less anxious. It’s also important to note that they didn’t feel more attractive, which could boost positive emotions and skew study results.
See for yourself – no Botox needed. Take a peek at “100 smiles a minute.” I’m convinced you’ll see that giving and receiving a smile provides massive muscle to your overall good health.
How about you, real buzz friends? How does smiling help you stay healthy?
Until next time . . . Mare
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