Give a Gift of Dopamine!

In Brain, Dopamine, Health, Stress, Uncategorized, Wellbeing by DC McGuire3 Comments

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No need for gift wrapping! Studies have shown that just the act of smiling (making the physical facial shapes and movements), whether the result of real joy or an act, can have both short- and long-term benefits on people’s health and wellbeing.

Smiling Elevates Mood

Next time you’re feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance your mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you elevate your mood because the physical act of smiling actually activates neural messaging in your brain. A simple smile can trigger the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, especially dopamine and serotonin. Think of smiling like a natural anti-depressant.

Smiling Boosts Your Immune System

Smiling can also boost your overall health. The act of smiling actually helps the human immune system to function more effectively. When you smile, immune function improves because you are more relaxed (thanks to the release of certain neurotransmitters). In addition to taking precautions like washing your hands, why not try to prevent the cold and flu by smiling?

Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure

When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Enjoy the difference!

Smiling is A Natural Pain Killer

Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three neurotransmitters make us feel good from head to toe. Not only do these natural chemicals elevate your mood, but they also relax your body and reduce physical pain. Smiling is a natural drug.

Smiling Is Contagious

Smiling not only has the power to elevate your mood, but it can also change the moods of others and make things happier. The part of your brain that is responsible for your controlling the facial expression of smiling is an unconscious automatic response area.  This means that smiling can be completely unconscious, particularly when it comes to our habit of mimicking another person’s smile. Yes, it is scientifically proven that smiles are “contagious”. Dopamine – the gift that goes on giving!


Sources: Little, A. C., B. C. Jones, and L. M. Debruine. “Facial Attractiveness: Evolutionary Based Research.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366.1571 (2011): 1638-659. Hatfield, Elaine, John T. Cacioppo, and Richard L. Rapson. “Susceptibility to Emotional Contagion.” Emotional Contagion (1993): 147-82. Abel, EL, and ML Kruger. “Smile Intensity in Photographs Predicts Longevity.” Center for Human Growth and Development. Wayne State University, April 2010. Mobbs, D. Neuron, Dec. 4, 2003; vol 40: pp 1041-1048. News release, Neuron.




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