As humans, we first begin smiling in the womb. As children, we smile more than 400 times a day. Yet as we age, our faces begin to show more blank expressions and even frowns. The happiest of adults smile an average of 40–50 times a day, while the average adult only smiles 20 times a day. Fortunately, there is good news about smiling that may inspire us to change our ways. Besides others viewing us as more attractive, confident and relaxed when we smile, growing research finds that smiling elicits a plethora of health benefits, including less stress and a happier, longer life.
Genuine smiling involves both mouth and eye muscles in which the cheeks rise and the skin around the eyes crinkle. Authentic smiles convey a positive self-image and lighter mood. A study testing people’s behaviors under pressure-filled tasks showed that genuine smiles lowered both stress responses and heart rate. Individuals who smile even through tough situations are found to feel better emotionally and physically. In addition, research on European smiles concludes that smiling varies among different cultures and women tend to smile more than men.
“Smiling is one of the universal expressions that bridges all generations,” said Adrienne Wood, Care Planner, at the Georgian Triangle Right at Home Office. “In our older clients who deal with physical limitations and the emotional stressors of ageing, we see positive changes when we engage them in activities, conversations and memories that elicit smiles. No one is ever too old to smile.”
A study of American baseball card photos taken in 1952 revealed that the smiling baseball players outlived their non-smiling counterparts by seven years. The conclusion: Cracking a smile can add years to your life. Research on the effects of turning a frown upside down reports that smiling is similar to getting restful sleep and actually awakens your brain with feel-good neural messaging.
Smiling is shown to enliven the orbitofrontal cortex, the sensory reward center in the brain, which means when you see another person smiling, you actually feel rewarded. Grinning from ear to ear, or even cracking a slight smile, boosts physical health in many specific ways. For example, smiling:
Fortifies the immune system. From grinning to beaming, a happy face makes for an upbeat mood and relaxed body, which enhances immune function. Smiling literally aids in the prevention of flu and colds. Plus, China’s Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou is one of many health institutions worldwide that credits smiling in the treatment of cancer.
Produces stress-reducing hormones like cortisol, dopamine and adrenaline. Even a shy grin activates the brain to counter high levels of stress hormones that increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and structural changes in the brain’s memory.
Releases the body’s natural drugs. With a happy face, the body releases pain-reducing endorphins to relax the body, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
Positively changes mood. Psychologists note that if a person grins for 60 seconds, even if the grin is faked or forced, the body releases mood-lifting serotonin that helps the body feel content again. The British Dental Health Foundation concludes that smiles are naturally sweet and can produce the same emotional response as a person eating 2,000 chocolate bars.
Uplifts the face for a more youthful look. Smile muscles physically draw up the face, making a person look younger and more vibrant.
Breaking into a happy face makes a person look friendly and engaging. Flashing the pearly whites also significantly improves overall physical and emotional health at every age - and that is something to smile about.
Right at Home Canada offers both non-medical and medical care to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Right at Home Canada offers a unique approach to care delivery including a Care Team approach that leads to a higher level of quality and care experience. Each caregiver is thoroughly screened, trained and insured prior to entering a client’s home. Right at Home is a global organization with offices in Canada, the United States, China, Brazil, the UK, Ireland, Japan and Australia.
For more information on Right at Home Canada, visit About Right at Home Canada at www.rightathomecanada.com or contact your local office at 13 Ontario Street, Collingwood at www.righathomecanada/georgian-triangle 705-293-5500 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org