Your Brain on Smiles

smile, healthy lifestyle, mental wellness, wellness

Smiling Brings out More than Your Eyes

Did you know that the average person smiles 13 times a day? What’s more, when it comes to children, that figure can be as much as 400!

For such a small gesture, a smile can have powerful consequences — both for you and for everyone around you. In a recent study, researchers even discovered that people who smile are perceived as being healthier and more attractive than being the right weight or wearing make-up. If you have ever wanted to find out more about the science behind your smile, then read on…

The Science of Smiling

When you smile, four hormones are released into your head: neuropeptides, endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. This is why it is important to perfect your smile, especially at clinics like Adriatic Dental & Orthodontics clinic to lift your mood.

To get to grips with what goes on in your brain when you are happy, you will need to get well acquainted with these!

What are neuropeptides? smile, healthy lifestyle, mental wellness, wellness

Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate with each other in order to send information around your body. They act as chemical signals, helping to spread the message through your body when you are feeling various emotions. Happiness, sadness, pain — they all stem from this.

There are around 100 different types of neuropeptides in the human body. Furthermore, neuropeptides can trigger reactions in the body that help relieve stress and restore calm after a nerve-wracking event.

What are endorphins?

Known as our ‘happy’ hormones, endorphins are released from the pituitary gland. Perhaps you’re familiar with the phrase ‘endorphin rush?’ Endorphins respond to certain stimuli, notably stress and pain, and interact with the areas of the brain responsible for blocking those feelings and controlling emotions.

They also help to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, which means that when they’re released they help you feel more relaxed.

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a key factor in motivation and productivity. The neurotransmitter usually travels forward from the ventral tegmental area to the pleasure centres of your brain that are responsible for feelings of joy.

As well as making a person feel good, dopamine also sends signals to the muscles in the body to make them move.

What is serotonin?

Serotonin can be found in the brain stem. It travels around the brain, calling in at the frontal lobe before it stops in the hippocampus. This final neurotransmitter is responsible for reducing depression and regulating anxiety. When you smile, the release of serotonin helps to stabilise your mood.

It can also be found in blood platelets and helps heal wounds by causing arteries to narrow and form blood clots.

What are the health benefits of smiling?

First and foremost, smiling can improve your health by lowering your heart rate. A lower heart rate means that the heart is not overworking, therefore meaning that the person is less stressed. This was confirmed in a recent study which suggested that holding a smile during a stressful situation can help the heart. Endorphins also lower your blood pressure.

When it comes to our mental health, psychologists found that forcing a grin when feeling down can instantly improve your mood.

One smile can provide the same level of dopamine as up to 2,000 chocolate bars. It brings some truth to the adage “grin and bear it”!

Finally, a smile is contagious, thanks to special cells in the brain called mirror neurons. When activated, they lead us to imitating the movements of other people. So what better way is there of making everyone around you happy, too?

Other fun facts:

As well as a smile being a universal form of communication among humans, there are also some pets who can sense your good mood. Dogs, cats, and horses are all said to recognize and/or respond to human emotion.

A smile is the first facial expression that you make as a baby. In fact, ultrasound scans have shown that babies have even smiled in the womb!

There are 19 different types of smiles — shockingly, however, only six represent happiness. The others include a polite smile — where only the mouth is used, not the eyes — and an embarrassed smile, where the lips are kept firmly shut.

Wrap-Up

You have probably heard of the statistic that claims it takes more muscles to frown than to smile; however, contrary to popular belief, it actually takes more muscles to smile. On the bright side, it is said to be easier to smile because we have mastered the muscles that are used when we grin.

So smile, smile, smile! Give your homones a boost and reap the benefits on the daily.

If you’re interested in learning more about the phenomenon of smiling, the team over at finance and lifestyle magazine Good Vibes have created an interactive infographic to take you through the smiling process. Check it out here!

Helen Parkinson
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Your Brain on Smiles