Five Surprising Health Benefits of Smiling

Even though smiling seems like a simple act that only involves your facial muscles, there’s growing evidence that shows smiling can improve almost every area of your health.  From your mood to your pain level to your blood pressure and immune system, here are five surprising reasons why smiling can improve your health...starting today!

Smiling is good for your mental health.

The next time you feel sad or anxious, stop, take a deep breath,and remind yourself to smile.  Even if you have to fake a smile, this simple act triggers your brain to release serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that improve your mood and help you feel calm, positive and relaxed!

Smiling decreases pain.

When you smile, your brain also releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers.  Endorphins latch onto opiate receptors in the brain and function like narcotics do to diminish your body’s perception of pain.  So the next time you’re in pain, smile -- or watch a show that makes you laugh, or tell a joke to a friend -- and the endorphins that flow will help alleviate your discomfort.

Smiling helps your cells repair themselves.

Your body is good at sensing two states: safety and danger.  When your muscles are tense and your stress level is high, your body perceives that it’s in danger.  In that state, cells aren’t able to repair themselves well because they’re in defensive mode. However, when you smile, your muscles relax, signaling that you’re safe. In this state, cells take the time and quality nutrients they need to repair themselves well.  

Smiling lowers your blood pressure.

In addition to improving your mood and alleviating pain, the neurotransmitters released when you smile -- serotonin, dopamine and endorphins -- cause your whole body to relax. When your blood vessels relax, there’s less pressure on the artery walls, which causes your blood pressure and heart rate to drop.  These positive effects last for hours after your smile has faded away.

Smiling boosts your immune system.

When you’re under stress, your body releases catecholamines (like epinephrine) that raise your heart rate, increase your anxiety, and suppress the activity of your immune cells.  When you smile, your catecholamine levels drop, and your immune cells become more active so they can effectively defend you from viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.

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At Golden Gate Urgent Care, we work seven days a week to help our patients feel as happy and healthy as possible!  Make an appointment online or simply walk in to get the care you need.

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