When You’re Smiling . . .

Written on by Kathryn Lerro

I never imagined that the day would come when I’d be wearing a mask whenever I left my house, but here we are in the spring of 2020, and almost everyone is wearing a mask . . . with no end in sight.

I don’t really mind wearing a mask. It makes me feel safer and I know it makes others feel safer. I may feel differently when the temperature goes up and the feel of my steamy breath against my skin makes the heat and humidity feel hotter and muggier, but for now, I’m doing okay.

The one thing about wearing a mask that I can’t seem to get over is that it conceals my smile.

Smiling is my favorite form of communication. If I’m out and about and I see a cute baby or a friendly looking dog, or someone who looks like they could use a little kindness, a smile is my go-to. I use a smile to silently express so many things:  understanding, thanks, apology, sympathy, comradery, and so on. When words would be intrusive between strangers, a smile can speak volumes.

And now mine is hidden.

On my daily walks through the neighborhood I often find myself beaming at someone, which makes me feel a little foolish when it occurs to me that they can’t see my smile. I’ve wondered if I could force myself to keep a straight face until the masks come off . . .

Nope. I’ll keep smiling—because I won’t be wearing a mask forever, and because I know smiling isn’t just good for the recipient—it’s also good for the smiler.

To help you stay motivated to keep a cheerful countenance during these trying times, here are a few facts about why smiling is such a healthy habit:

  • Smiling relieves stress.
  • Smiling elevates mood. (A study done in the UK showed that smiling stimulates the body’s reward center better than chocolate . . . without the calories!) 
  • Smiling boosts the immune system and promotes healing.
  • Smiling lowers blood pressure.
  • Smiling increases feelings of courage.
  • Smiling helps you keep a positive outlook.
  • Smiling may make you live longer.
  • Smiling can cause the brain to create new neural pathways. (So keep smiling while you’re talking yourself into breaking a bad habit or beginning a good one!)
  • Smiling reduces pain.
  • Smiling combats depression.
  • Smiling helps process grief.

Finally . . .

Believe it or not, even faking a smile produces benefits for your mind and body, so although the world isn’t a very happy place right now, try to smile anyway . . . it can only make things better.  


Photo by Andrea via Pexels

Sources:

Ron Gutman,  Ted Talks, The Hidden Power of Smiling https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_gutman_the_hidden_power_of_smiling/transcript?language=en#t-426954

Patricia King – Smile at Your Future https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=patricia+king+smile

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/simply-smiling-can-actually-reduce-stress-10461286/
https://www.verywellmind.com/top-reasons-to-smile-every-day-2223755

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