Smiling is medicine


Madi Mayer

Practicing smiling improves both physical and mental health.

Margaux Brink, Health Editor

We grow up knowing how to laugh during our good times and cry during our bad, but we may still not know how powerful a simple smile can be.

When a smile is spread across one’s face, the brain sends out neurotransmitters called endorphins, which not only create a happier mood but also help to relieve stress and reduce perception of pain. Even a fake smile releases these neurotransmitters—creating a similar effect.  “When I smile, all my worries and anxiety seem to go away,” senior Tommy Luedke said.

As well as making oneself happier, smiles are contagious and can increase serotonin levels in others after flashing those pearly whites. The brain is trained to mimic facial expressions or have reactions due to an automatic responsive part of the brain called cingulate cortex. Turns out, when one smiles, the natural human response is to smile back. “If someone smiles at me, I always smile back. Not because I feel the need to, but because it comes naturally,” senior Maddy Karlen said.

Not only is smiling a natural response to our emotions, but it also takes more effort to frown or make an angry face. According to researcher Kate Devlin, a frown uses almost up to three times as much muscles as a smile uses. Junior Marley Rozman realizes the importance of smiling and uses it as a tool to communicate with others. “I like to smile because I see how positively it affects others around me and makes their day,” Rozman said.
Although frowns are an easy accessory to wear, a smile will make you look even better. They bring comfort to not just others, but ourselves too. In a recent study done by Harry T. Reis in Europe, subjects were asked to view strangers and list them as attractive or unattractive. Almost every subject chose the smiling person every single time. This is due to the fact that a smile reads off as positive and makes oneself more approachable and confident.