Winter brings some amazing things; snowmen, skiing, Winterlicious, and hot cocoa. It also brings frosted faces, lots of staying indoors, and the winter blues. The experience is different for each of us, but the lack of sun and grey skies leave us feeling very blah! Think about an early morning on a winter day; walking to work, waiting in line to get your coffee or sitting on the streetcar going to school. All of a sudden, your eyes caught a baby smiling at you. You could not hold your smile back, and that smile stayed with you for the whole day. Smiles are extremely contagious and are the easiest way to communicate with people. A smile says "Hi", it says "I hope you have a great day" and it can even say " You seem sad. Things will turn around, stay strong!"
Scientifically speaking, smiling is good for you. It reduces stress levels and makes you happier. The bigger the smile the larger the impact. Two scientists from University of Kansas investigated the benefits of smiling on our stress levels and heart rate. They found that smiling during stressful moments reduces our stress levels and lowers our heart rate. The types of smiles also had an impact. A genuine smile (both mouth and eye muscles are involved) had an even bigger impact than a standard smile (only the muscles around your mouth are engaged). An even more interesting find is that forcing a smile works too. They used chopsticks to recreate forced smiles and still found it to impact to be positive.
Findings show that smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body's stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.
So the next time you're sitting in traffic or are frustrated with a situation, just think of this article or the photo's below and force a smile. It'll help you get through it.
#TorontoSmiles is an anti-stigma campaign for the city of Toronto with the mission to spread our smiles and make each other's day. For 17 straight days, starting from January 28th all the way to Valentine's day the people of Toronto are asked to post photos of smiles (human, pets or cookies) and use the hashtag ! #TorontoSmiles hopes to use smiles to raise awareness on mental health and get people talking about ways of creating access to resources.
So go ahead and smile ! Smiles are contagious you never know who's day you're changing .