Smiling and laughing can have a positive effect on your well-being, but as you make the transition from child to adult, you often tend to lose the habit of indulging in these behaviors.
Research has shown that there a number of health benefits contributed to smiling and laughing. In addition to improved health, these simple facial expressions and common human behaviors can have a distinctive positive affect on other factors all areas of your life. When you smile and laugh, a number of physiological changes occur in your body, mostly without you being consciously aware of it happening.
Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile
These are triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face, which is interpreted by your brain, which in turn releases these chemicals. Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy, and they also help lower stress levels. Faking a smile or laugh works as well as the real thing—the brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way. This is known as the facial feedback hypothesis. The more we stimulate our brain to release this chemical the more often we feel happier and relaxed.
Endorphins make us feel happier and less stressed
They also act as the body’s natural pain killers. For sufferers of chronic pain, laughing and smiling can be very effective in pain management, as can laughing off the pain when you bump an elbow or fall over.
While the release of endorphins is increased, the stress hormone cortisol is reduced
Cortisol is more active when we feel stressed or anxious and contributes to the unpleasant feelings we experience, and by lowering it we can reduce these negative feelings.