Tip #5 - Laugh and/or Smile
I was recently reminded about the healing power of laughter. I had injured myself doing some leg exercises with weights, which were too heavy. It's a reminder that I'm more delicate than I think I am! One evening, I watched a number of YouTube videos featuring this great observational comic, which I found to be laugh-out-loud funny. The next day, I felt significantly better. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Find what tickles your funny bone and indulge.
The Power Behind a Smile
So, you haven't had a good laugh in awhile. Try on a smile for a boost of happiness. On page 37 in Connected - How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do, the authors explain:
"If your friend feels happy, she smiles, you smile, and in the act of smiling you also come to feel happy. In bars and bedrooms, at work and on the street, everywhere people interact, we tend to synchronize our facial expressions, vocalizations , and postures unconsciously and rapidly, and as a result we also meld our emotional states."
Even if you don't feel happy, there's value in turning that frown upside down. A study in the Association for Psychological Science shows that smiling, whether it be a Duchenne smile (the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes are engaged) or a standard smile, can help to reduce the body's stress response:
"The results of the study suggest that smiling may actually influence our physical state: compared to participants who held neutral facial expressions, participants who were instructed to smile, and in particular those with Duchenne smiles, had lower heart rate levels after recovery from the stressful activities."
It can be hard to smile and laugh when you are enveloped in a red-hot flare, when sleep is elusive and the worries accumulate faster than ants on your picnic table. You want to break the cycle, so you have to start somewhere. A smile, even faked, can be of value. Combine it with a lot of the other strategies you'll find on this blog and that faked smile may just become real.
Do it for the health of it!