Did you know that just maintaining a sad face drags you down? Your mind and body both are negatively effected by a frown. The idea of "fake it until you make it" is more than cliche. Science backs it.
It’s not easy to keep smiling in stressful situations, but studies report that doing exactly that has health benefits. When recovering from a stressful situation, study participants who were smiling had lower heart rates than those with a neutral facial expression.
A smile also makes one more attractive, easy going, and empathetic. In fact, a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that smiling actually makes you more attractive to those you smile at. A study found that smiling can make you more comfortable in situations you would otherwise feel awkward in.
Smiling even makes your immune system stronger by making your body produce white blood cells to help fight illnesses. One study found that hospitalized children who were visited by story-tellers and puppeteers who made them smile and laugh had higher white blood cell counts than those children who weren't visited.
Studies have found that people are more willing to engage socially with others who are smiling. A smile and all the positive emotions associated with it are contagious. University of Pittsburgh study concluded that people who smiled were considered "more trustworthy" than people with non-smiling facial expressions.
Laughing too has a ton of scientific benefits. Levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine tend to decrease during bouts of laughter. Laughter is used to reduce stress, relieve pain and boost immunological responses by doctors
and therapists. Laughter has been shown to lower or balance blood pressure and increase vascular blood flow. Laughing 100 times is equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on the stationary bicycle. Similar to smiling, laughing also increases endrophines in the body and also makes a person more
pleasant to be around. Laughter is relaxing to our bodies and muscles. In one study, students who watched a funny video in their classroom responded with lower levels of aggression in tense situations.
Negative emotions are also bad for the body. Science is beginning to confirm what certain wise men have said at different points in history. King David said, "A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries bones." Prov. 17:22. Your mind and mental state can have a profound affect on your physical body, your spiritual experience, and your over-all quality of life. The mind, the body, and the spirit are all inextricably interconnected. When one is affected, the other two suffer.
Here is another interesting point. When you are stressed do you clench your right hand or left hand? Assuming you are right handed, you probably clench your right hand. This is normal, when there is stress, the body gets more tense. A long clench on the right hand or many through-out the day, though could suggest too much stress. If you notice that you do this. Try something else: Try your left hand when you are stressed out. Some athletes may improve their performance under pressure simply by squeezing a ball or clenching their left hand before competition to activate certain parts of the brain, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. Dogs do this too with their tails. When dogs are anxious they wag their tag from right to left, but when they are happy they wag their tail from left to right!
I leave you with one activity for you. Try this experiment, place a weight on a string and then hold your hand steady while holding the string and letting the weight drop. See how long you can hold it still and steady. Next, think about moving the string clockwise but do not do it, only think about it. Slowly the weight will move clockwise. Now, think about it moving in a counter-clockwise direction but do not actually initiate your muscles...slowly the weight will change directions!
This is an amazing proof that our mind and emotions do really strongly effect the rest of our body, if the science was not enough for you!