The power of a smile for your health
How do you trigger a smile?
A smile is simply the result of the contraction of some muscles of the face. The signal, transmitted from sound or sight to our brain, triggers a « laugh stimulus ». The thalamus, together with the brain lentiform and caudate nuclei, transports the stimulus to the face nerves. These, in turn, stimulate the muscles involved in smiling. The greater the impulse, the more the laughter will reach into the diaphragm and abdomen muscles (the famous “stomachache from laughter!”). When laughter is over, it leaves you with a diffused sense of relaxation and well-being.
What happens when you smile?
Laughing triggers the production of adrenaline and dopamine and releases our natural morphines, like endorphine and enkephalin. Endorphin reduces stress, inducing relaxation and easing pain. Enkephalin, on the other hand, supports the immune system, helping to reduce diseases and infections. Moreover, it stimulates the muscles of chest and abdomen, with positive effects on the functioning of liver and intestine. A heartfelt laughter activates up to 15 different muscles in the face, and it has an impact on both the abdomen muscles and the sphincters.
And that’s not all of it! Laughing favors deep breathing. When you laugh, the alternation between exhalation and inhalation is three times as fast, increasing the gas exchange. This promotes the elimination of lactate and reduces fatigue. In addition, the deep breathing generated by laughter favors blood oxygenation and circulation. The subsequent tissue regeneration and the balance of physiological functions make the body stronger in fighting infections.
Did you know that...
• …. When you laugh your eyes shine because the blood supply to the pupils is increased?
• … When you laugh your nostrils dilate, cleaning out the nasal cavities and keeping colds at bay?
• … Smiling extends life and makes your face look younger?
• … Smiling projects confidence and is the key to success, even at work?