Find out the science behind your smile and do it more!

Thursday, 19 April 2018 The Sunny Side

At Rio we’re on a mission to make everyone smile more. It’s no secret that we celebrate the sunny - summer, fresh tastes, good vibes and good friends, well they all make our lips curve into a big smile.

Find out the science behind your smile and do it more!

Why do we smile? We figure if we can understand the science behind it, then maybe we can help to make more people do it, right? So this is the first blog into our exploration of what makes people smile. At Rio we’re all about celebrating the sunny so we couldn’t think of anything better to research…

Here’s what we found…

How is our smile connected to our brain?

Here’s where the science kicks in … Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting stress. They are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate with each other. Happy or sad, it’s these little fellas that chat to each other and let your whole body know.

The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released the moment a smile forms on your face. The serotonin released in that moment of smiling, acts as a complete mood improver. Hey presto, you’re feeling better …

The longer you smile the better you feel…

Smiling and your brain’s reaction to it works on a continual loop, Once the smiling muscles in our face contract, there is a positive feedback loop that now goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy.

A smile is the universally recognised sign of happiness

Smiling literally has the power to make you feel better…

Norman Cousins famously chronicled the effects of his self-prescribed ‘laughing cure’ in his book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient (W.W. Norton, 1979, 2001, 2005). Cousins, who suffered from inflammatory arthritis, claimed that 10 minutes of hearty guffawing while watching hilarious movies generated two hours of pain-free sleep, during which his painful condition was reduced.

Research profiled in Psychology Today since his study has shown that laughter reduces levels of stress hormones, increases health-enhancing hormones and infection-fighting antibodies, and if that wasn’t enough, it improves blood flow to the heart. Phew! Not bad for a chuckle hey?!

So is giggling and smiling contagious?

Yes. Our other senses spring into action The endorphins that are triggered by smiling are addictive - we want more of it, which means that our body is fine tuned to sensing it, so when we see someone else smiling our eyes widen, our ears seep it into our brains, we smile and yippee those endorphins are released all over again. These connections are so powerful, that even if you fake a smile, the same endorphins are triggered in the brain and you can end up feeling happier.

Make your life better and reduce stress by smiling. 

Smiling even helps reduce stress in your heart rate. So as psychological scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman say: ‘The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment. Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!’ 

So smiling spreads joy, and we know the world needs to focus on that, so let’s celebrate the lighter evenings and smile… #celebratethesunny

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