I’ve never been a big fan of the “fake it till you make it” mentality. Nodding and smiling when you want to shake your head or walk away can be unbearable at times. But a new study is showing it could have big benefits for your brain.
New research from the University of South Australia is showing that a smile can trick your mind into being more positive, helping to improve your outlook and make you feel better. It might not solve all of your problems, but there are health benefits to smiling.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a lot of change and uncertainty. Aside from the stress of potentially contracting the virus, it has thrown many into an uncomfortable position where it could be hard to find hope.
Social isolation, job loss, or financial strain are just a few of the peripheral effects of the pandemic.
It can be very difficult to maintain a positive outlook as stress and anxiety mount. These negative emotions can worsen physical health, potentially leading to poor sleep, high blood pressure, pain, and decision-making that could exacerbate metabolic conditions that make it difficult to manage blood sugar.
This new study, however, suggests that forcing a smile from time to time can improve outlook and help you reach an emotionally positive state. This could provide some much-needed relief for your mind and body.
Published in Experimental Psychology, the study looked at how a covert smile impacted facial and body expressions. Participants were induced into smiling by holding a pen between their teeth, forcing facial muscles to replicate the movement of a smile.
Lead researcher of the study, Dr. Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, said “when your muscles say you’re happy, you’re more likely to see the world around you in a positive way.”
Smiling could help improve mood by stimulating the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, to release neurotransmitters that encourage a positive mental state. Even when smiles are forced, the simple muscle movement could trigger this response
I’m not saying that a smile will solve your problems. But doing it multiple times a day may help you feel better, which could translate into positive physical and mental health outcomes.
So, even when you’re unhappy and things aren’t going your way, faking it could help.