Quick stress management tip: Smile your stress away!

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2012-11-18 07:12:42 -0600
Started 2012-10-04 20:29:02 -0500

One of your most effective tools for reducing stress is your smile. Not only when you feel like you have a good reason to smile, but also when you don’t.

Smiling has physical benefits. By smiling, you are sending the signal to your body that life is good, that everything is okay. In response to this signal, your body releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical. Endorphins can not only make you feel happier, but they reduce cortisol, the stress hormone.

By the way, endorphins are also referred to as the body’s own natural pain relievers. After all, endorphin is a combination of the words endogenous, which means “from within,” and morphine. Maybe not a miracle, but it can’t hurt!

Smiling lowers your stress in other ways as well. Stress often speeds up your breathing, which can then increase your stress level. Smiling can slow your breathing down. When you stop all of that hyper-breathing, you are more likely to feel more relaxed. Feeling relaxed can lead to an increase in immune cells.

Smiling is contagious. When you walk into a situation in which other people are feeling tense or angry, smiling can be disarming. A smile shows other people that you are open and friendly, and that you’re not looking for a confrontation. The result: less tension in your relationships.

And guess what? Smiling makes you look better! And who doesn’t want to look better?

Stressed out? Don’t wait until you feel like smiling. Just smile. Feel the good vibrations.

Altogether now: Say cheese!

Tags: stress

44 replies

Linda crutch
Linda crutch 2012-10-25 09:17:11 -0500 Report

Smiling comes naturally to me. I get comments saying 'you always have a smile in your face', and its so refreshing.

Tony5657 2012-10-16 05:17:12 -0500 Report

This may sound a bit lame but I've seen dogs that look as if they're smiling. When I've seen them do that, they are "wagging their tails off", so to speak, and seem VERY happy. That always gets a smile and a laugh out of me. :o) In the motivational development and self-help book by Napoleon Hill "Think and Grow Rich", Mr. Hill says his dog smiled at him often. (Right now I'm both smiling & wagging MY tail. LOL )

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-25 18:43:57 -0500 Report

Hi Tony,

I love this reply. A smiling dog certainly brings a smile to my face, too. Talk about eternal optimism and unconditional love -- who does it better than dogs?

The Napoleon Hill book is a great one.

Hope you are doing well!


flipmom 2012-10-09 22:28:51 -0500 Report

and with that note…
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile…

and I'm smiling, can you tell? =)

Nana_anna 2012-10-09 10:10:42 -0500 Report

When I am in public, I tend to smile at people that are around me. I noticed that you all don't smile back allot of the times. Sometimes I smile at a person and it shocks them! That one makes me laugh! I guess they are suprized that someone actually smiled at them! I have been pointed out as being someone who smiles, and it brightens their day! I love seeing smiling faces!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-10 10:37:12 -0500 Report

Hey Nana_anna! I think that we are conditioned to be so guarded with each other. It's a shame. And so when somebody breaks that unspoken code by smiling, we are often left at a loss. But it can be fun to catch someone off guard and share that moment of connection.

MAYS 2012-10-08 17:37:29 -0500 Report

I was never one for smiling on the outside, but I am always happy on the inside!
Although i must admit that i love to make babies and small children smile by smiling at them and by making silly faces at them, their expression of amusement is priceless!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-10 10:33:30 -0500 Report

Hi MAYS!!! I would suspect that you positive attitude shines outward. And I agree, it can be gratifying and fun to make kids smile. I hope you are having a good week.

vgarrison 2012-10-08 02:43:37 -0500 Report

What's the saying about how it takes so many more muscles in your mouth and face to make a scowl, but only a few to smile…I am only 32 and have some decent laugh lines around my face…I say good for me…I worked hard for these laugh lines!!!!!!

techguy87114 2012-10-07 14:24:03 -0500 Report

I like to sport a smile no matter what as it keeps people guessing. Never let them see you sweat.. but always let them see you smile. They are infectious- You smile at someone, MOST of the time they smile back.

Ms. DAT 2012-10-06 02:34:23 -0500 Report

Hello Dr. Gary,

I agree on the point that smiling can help diffuse anger when done appropriately by conveying that you understand and that you are listening with empathy. I was recently on the city bus when two women who was passing one another got into a confrontation standing right over me as I sat talking a laughing with a new lady.
At one point I was able to say with sincerity to the one that stood over me, "you stay right here with us don't go to the back of the bus" with a gentle smile not a stupid smile then she laughed slightly. Cause the one that stood over me was ready to whoop some butty at 44 years old. I took her hand to say" I understand how you feel we are around the same age". The lady calmed down and soon got off bus in a better frame of mind.

You don't have to smile sheepishly and you don't have to give a fake smile either."

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-07 22:02:08 -0500 Report

Hi Mrs DAT,

What a great story! You certainly took a chance there, but I suspect that your smile helped to calm a tense situation, helped everyone to calm down. Smiling does have a way of doing that.

Thanks for sharing this!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-06 19:24:08 -0500 Report

Ms. DAT had you done that on one of our city buses, you would have got your butt kicked or told to mind your business and the woman would have still kicked the other woman's butt. I have seen that happen a lot so I say nothing.

I am glad you were able to diffuse the situation. It takes a brave person to step in and do that. Keep in mind in this day and time it can also be very dangerous for some. This woman was probably grateful in the end that you were able to diffuse her anger. Had she gone to the back of the bus someone could have been injured and both would have more than likely ended up in jail.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-05 13:18:47 -0500 Report

I am not a smiley person and never have been. I will laugh at something funny and outrageous but to simply walk around smiling at people is so out of character for me. I will smile when greeting friends. In thinking about this I don't have friends who simply walk around smiling at people, especially if we don't know you. Besides if you look at the eyes of the person who is smiling and the smile isn't in their eyes. They are not really smiling. A true smile is in your eyes as well as on your face.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-07 21:56:43 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce,

You bring up a good point. But I think that it can help us to feel more optimistic when we focus our thoughts on something positive, and smiling helps us to do that. Not that you have to walk around grinning from ear to ear. Balance is everything.

Nice to hear from you, as always!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-08 17:17:31 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary I love your post as always and wait patiently for them. I find that a person is more responsive to if the smile is genuine.

tabby9146 2012-10-05 21:24:48 -0500 Report

I've never been a real smiley person either Joyce, not to people I don't know especially, just the way I have always been. I love to smile when I am around those I love, and love to laugh. noticed when my son was an older child, it was the same with him, it doesnt mean a person is not happy, and I am sure many think I am not. you are right, a true smile you can see it in their eyes.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-05 22:00:52 -0500 Report

Exactly. If I walked around my community smiling people would think I was insane. I really don't know anyone of all the people I know who smile just because. I had a boss who smiled all the time and complained that I never smile. I told her I smile a lot when I see something funny. When she got on my nerves I would smile at her. She would leave me alone for a few days after that. I agree I don't smile a lot but I am a happy person.

jayabee52 2012-10-05 05:33:11 -0500 Report

SMILE! (makes people wonder what you've been up to . . . LoL!)

Tony5657 2012-10-05 04:09:08 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary,

Thank you for this very powerful message. People who seldom smile make me nervous … really. Smiling is often contagious. When a smile is returned to you we both feel better. :o) Gotta love those lil' endorphins!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-07 21:50:23 -0500 Report

Hey Tony,

Nice to hear from you on this. Whetehr someone smiles or not really does have an impact on how well others are able to relate to them, even to feel trust. Conscious and subconscious.


annesmith 2012-10-05 02:22:23 -0500 Report

This is so very true. I have literally made myself feel physically better by smiling..very interesting medical fact. ANNE

Next Discussion: Don't know where to start »