How to smile and reduce stress

Next time when you feel so depressed that you want to grit your teeth, you can try to laugh.Studies have shown that smiling is not only good for your mind, but also Physiologically, also. Surprisingly, even if you are not happy at first, smiling can bring you health benefits.

A team of psychologists at the University of Kansas set out to study whether keeping your face smiling can reduce stress.In their study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers Sarah Pressman and Tara Kraft wanted to test the old adage “accept with a smile” to determine what it is not. make Smile alone, but smile can Do Once in place.

About the research

The subjects underwent a number of different tasks that are known to be stressful, including using non-dominant hands to trace the outlines of stars while looking in the mirror (Pooh!) Put one hand into a bowl of ice water for a minute.

The study participants performed the task in three different ways: without smiling, the teeth maintained a gentle smile and a broad smile, while holding chopsticks between the teeth as instructed by the researcher. Chopsticks provide a way to standardize facial expressions in order to compare them and artificially create a smile. A broad, or so-called Duchenne smile — named after a French neurologist who recorded facial expressions in the 1860s — involves not only the muscles around the mouth but also the muscles around the eyes. Duchenne smiling subjects were also trained to exercise these muscles, although they were not specifically asked to smile.

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What did they find

There are two ways to measure the stress level: measuring the heart rate and asking the subjects how stressful they are when performing difficult tasks.

All participants, regardless of facial expressions, reported feeling the same level of stress during the task. However, the difference was the speed at which the heart rate returned to normal in the different groups: subjects with a neutral expression (no smile) had the longest heart rate recovery. The heart rate recovery of the subjects in the smile group was the fastest. The heart rate recovery speed of the subjects with a medium or so-called standard smile was somewhere in between, and the heart rate recovery was still better than that of the subjects with a neutral face.

The results support previous research in which subjects who used pencils to manipulate facial expressions found that certain cartoons were more interesting when their faces remained smiling than when their expressions remained neutral. Pressman and Kraft also cited past research and found that similar areas of the brain seem to be activated, regardless of whether the smile is spontaneous (the result of a good feeling) or intentionally expressed without these emotions.

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Forgery until you succeed?

Should you pretend to be happy? Do you feel less stressed? it depends.Research published in 2007 Journal of Occupational Health Psychology It revealed that the subjects who were told to be enthusiastic and hide their frustration in the customer service call center simulation were more exhausted and made more mistakes at work. The author enumerates the energy costs that workers feel when they try to be happy on the surface but are actually unhappy.

Nonetheless, the researchers wrote, focusing on positive thoughts or reassessing difficult situations can help improve mood over time.

Pretending to feel happy and tired, but focusing on positive things can ultimately lead to more positive prospects.

According to Pressman, the key may be how long the stressful situation will last.

She said: “Smile is not a panacea for all types of stress, especially long-term stressors,” she said, like repeated dealings with hostile customers or other difficult people, but it may relieve “short-term, acute It’s a source of stress and is only used for a short period of time, or as an antidote to temporary negative emotions.”

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So next time you are in a traffic jam or the person in front of you waits in the grocery store for too long, consider smiling. It may make you feel better and lower your heart rate.