When you think of the things that are essential to a healthy lifestyle, you probably focus on the big recommendations from health experts, such as getting more exercise, eating better, and getting more sleep.
But there’s another, easier way to live a healthier life: smiling. It may not seem like much, but smiling does a lot for your mental and physical health. And it’s a great way to help everyone around you live healthier, too.
Smiling as Micro-Meditation
Meditation is a proven way to help calm yourself. It can have benefits not just for anxiety, but also for health conditions that stem in full or in part from anxiety. But one problem with meditation is that many people feel they can’t do it, or don’t have the time to practice regular meditation.
That’s why some people recommend smiling as a form of micro-meditation. In this technique, you simply close your eyes, smile, and take deep breaths. It only takes a minute or so, but it can make all the difference in your mood. And it can help you be more mindful about what is causing stress in your day so that you can better avoid it.
The Biology of Smiling
The smile trick works in large part because it has a firm biological basis. Our facial expressions aren’t just a reflection of our mood, they’re linked to our brain with a dynamic loop. Yes, we smile when we’re happy, but when we’re smiling, it can stimulate the release of many of the brain’s best feel-good chemicals, including endorphins and serotonin. This can help you feel better and avoid stress and negative moods.
Those negative moods are bad for your health, but smiling can have a positive impact on your health.
How Smiling Can Help You Stay Healthy
So how does smiling help you stay healthy. That’s simple. First, if a smile becomes your go-to pick-me-up, it can help alleviate your reliance on “comfort food.” Comfort food is bad for your health, including your oral health. Snacking adds extra calories to your diet, and it’s usually in the form of unhealthy foods high in fats and sugars. These comfort foods are also often bad for your teeth, since the sugars and starches can also feed oral bacteria that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Between meal snacking is especially bad because it extends the amount of time that your teeth are exposed to harmful acids. Improving eating habits is one of the most basic strategies in preventive dentistry.
But smiling can also help you keep fit by making it easier to exercise. Running can be hard on your smile, but smiling actually makes it easier to run. In fact, the pain-relieving and mood-boosting effects of smiling can help you get more exercise, no matter your workout of choice.
Help Others Get Healthy with Your Smile
Are you that annoying person who is always encouraging others to eat healthy, get more exercise, and otherwise change their lives to be more like yours? Well, there’s a better way to spread health benefits than nagging everyone: just smile.
That’s because when other people see your smile, they have to work hard not to smile back. It’s a natural response, and when other people smile in response to your smile, they get the same benefits as you. Their mood will improve, their stress will decrease, and they’ll be better able to avoid junk food and more eager to get and stay active.
Don’t Have a Smile You Want to Share?
But what can you do if you’re unhappy with your smile and don’t want to share it with others? That’s where we can help. Cosmetic dentistry can address concerns that may keep you from smiling.