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Smile! It’s Good for your Heart Rate and Reduces Stress

Your face is your billboard by the highway of life and your smile is your means of unspoken communication, your first and most powerful “advertisement.” Having a pleasant facial expression—a smile—on your face conveys faith, optimism, kindness, approachability, concern for others, and a joy for living. Moreover, the Bible says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones (Proverbs 17:22, King James Version). 

The Nigerian Tribune from September 4, 2012 says that, “research has shown that when people make a cheerful face, the body undergoes physiological changes that can include lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system, diminishing pain and protecting the body from the damaging effects of stress.

Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Besides an old saying suggesting smiling to be an important nonverbal indicator of happiness, it is also believed that smiling is a panacea for life’s stressful events.

Moreover, smiling, just like laughter, could have real health-relevant benefits. Even if the smile is completely fake, it helps to improve stress response and protects the heart.

Researchers at the University of Kansas found that smiling can help to lower the heart rate and keep a person calm in stressful situations.

The study involved 169 college students from a Midwestern University and divided them into three groups, with each group trained to hold a different facial expressions by holding chopsticks in their mouths in certain ways.

Chopsticks were essential to the task because they forced the people to smile without their being aware that they were doing so.

Part of the group held the chopsticks such that the resulting facial expressions looked like what’s called a Duchenne smile, a genuine smile using muscles in the eyes and mouth. Some held a neutral expression, while others held a smile. Only half of smiling participants were told that they were smiling, the others were not aware of the purpose of the chopsticks.

While continuing to hold the chopsticks in their mouths, the subjects were told to do all kinds of activities intended to stress them out. In one activity, they had to trace a star with their non-dominant hand through the reflection in a mirror. In another, they dipped their hands in iced water.

While recording the subject’s heart rates during and after, the researchers found that those who held the chopsticks in a smile position, particularly those who held a Duchenne smile, had lower heart rates after a recovery period than those who had neutral expressions. Additionally, those that were told they were supposed to be smiling had a slightly higher increase in decreased heart rate compared to the group that didn’t know they were smiling.

Read the full article here

Photo by © Leloft1911, www.stockfreeimages.com

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