What Happens To Your Body If You Smile Everyday

Smiles are infectious. Whether you're smiling from a hilarious rom-com, a dad joke, or grinning because someone else is smiling — this involuntary response you can't always control is powerful. It's been widely accepted that a smile can go a long way, but how much does this action affect you? While smiling isn't typically associated with being intentional, Verywell Mind shares that a smile (authentic or not) can positively impact the body, mind, and spirit.

The sheer activity of lifting the corners of your mouth seems like a simple antidote to overall better health. Smiling not only radiates through your facial muscles, but it shows up in body language, too. Take body posture for an example. When you focus on negative feelings such as disappointment or self-doubt, the body may naturally slump (via Forbes). This is important because body posture echoes and contributes to how you feel since there's a strong mind-body connection.

However, the opposite holds true. One study published by the American Psychological Association found that facial action affects two things: facial expressions and the expression of the body. With this in mind, if you were to smile every day, here are five ways smiling would positively impact your body.

Your mood can boost from smiling

The power of smiling can be read about in books or heard in songs from artists such as Justin Bieber, Katie Perry, or even Frank Sinatra. Each of them points to one thing — a smile is a quick mood-boosting cure. In 2020, research from the University of Australia proved this to be true, finding that even a fake smile hoaxes your mind into a positive state. Lead researcher, Dr. Marmolejo-Ramos, says, "In our research, we found that when you forcefully practice smiling, it stimulates the amygdala — the emotional center of the brain — which releases neurotransmitters to encourage an emotionally positive state."

Thus a smile not only triggers happiness but sets off a chemical chain reaction as well. According to Verywell Mind, some of these neuropeptides or neurotransmitters released are serotonin and dopamine, which are each responsible for elevating moods. Dr. Marmolejo-Ramos further points out that if we can trick our brains to be in a state of happiness and positivity, then this method may be beneficial in improving mental health conditions like depression (via Forbes).

Your immune system is happier when you smile

Another profound way a big grin impacts your bodily health is by strengthening the immune system. Smiling helps the function of your immune system by helping it run more efficiently, which may leave you better prepared to fight a cold (via Verywell Mind). When negative thoughts or feelings arise they can set off various chemical reactions in the body that simultaneously can add stress and decrease immunity, per Mayo Clinic. Alternatively, embracing a smile or using some "pick-me-up" laughter triggers the release of neuropeptides, which ward off stress and strengthen the immune system.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a 2015 study researching the role laughter plays on the immune system, particularly in postpartum women. Researchers selected 76 participants, then exposed them to laughter therapy twice a week for 60 minutes. The findings indicated laughter therapy overall improved the immune system in postpartum women because of the neurotransmitters released.

When these specific neurotransmitters are released, it causes the body to relax. This relaxed state (triggered by smiling) encourages your immune system to function more effectively, as 2014 research published in Biochemical Pharmacology attests. Thus the famous saying "it's in my blood" may have some truth to it, as research shows smiling can affect the immune response system.

Smiling is a great way to relieve stress

Believe it or not, stress is visible anywhere on the body, especially on the face. Cracking a smile reduces your stress response and is a great short-term benefit to overall health (via Mayo Clinic). An outburst of nonstop smiling or a laughing frenzy can directly impact the body physically and mentally. According to the Mayo Clinic, smiling lightens the cognitive load, calms down stress responses, and soothes tension by prompting circulation and the relaxation of muscles.

One 2012 study published by Psychological Science investigated how positive facial expressions affect responses to stress. Researchers asked participants to complete a set of two stressful tasks with a facial expression. The first group's facial expression was a Duchenne smile (one that reaches the eyes), the second group's facial expression was a standard smile, and the control group held a neutral expression. The findings indicated all smiling participants experienced less stress during the task and had lower heart rates during the recovery period, compared to those in the control group.

Smiling helps reduce pain

Research has shown the positive role smiling has on stress, but did you know a smile can also help with pain? According to a 2021 study published in Emotion, the act of smiling or grimacing releases endorphins or natural painkillers such as serotonin to help you relax. The mixture of this brain chemical cocktail works to both elevate your mood while reducing the pain and tension, per Verywell Mind. Thus, one smile can trigger your body's natural painkillers to kick in and help alleviate pain all over your body.

To take smiling a step further, pain relief can also be found through laughter, shares Mayo Clinic. Whether you turn on your favorite sit-com rerun or spend all day laughing with a friend, the phrase "laughter is medicine" is science-backed.

Furthermore, both smiling and laughing can also help you better cope with very difficult situations that may or may not be associated with pain (via Mayo Clinic). PLOS One published the results of one controlled study that specifically tested the effects of laughter therapy on cancer patients to examine their quality of life. These findings indicated that laughing was very beneficial and could be a complementary element of treatment. However, further research is needed to understand the effects of smiling and laughing on cancer patients.

Smiling boosts your longevity

Ultimately, one of the best reasons to smile is that smiling increases your life expectancy, according to Verywell Mind. One 2010 study published by Psychological Science found that smiling intensity is directly associated with longevity. Thus, smiling more often may help you live longer.

While more research is needed to understand the link between smiling and longevity, one explanation could be that smiling is often associated with happiness and health (via Verywell Mind). In fact, a 2015 study published by Social Science & Medicine to examine happiness and health found that very happy people tend to live longer than those who are pretty happy or not happy. Happiness is also a strong indicator of one's sense of well-being.

While smiling every day offers some impressive benefits, keep in mind it's totally normal not to want to smile 24/7 or when you're having a bad day. If you find yourself wanting to smile more but don't know how, the best advice — fake it til you make it. Practice a half-smile for a few minutes a day if you're feeling sad or want a mood enhancer (via Harvard Health). Practice gratitude meditation or try laughing. We're pretty sure this will lead you to pearly white smiles.