Whether smiling can improve mental health or not is unclear. However, there’s plenty of evidence in its favour and, anecdotally, I’ve seen many examples of smiling helping clients feel better, calmer and more positive in my coaching practice. I often say “Try feeling miserable whilst smiling. It’s pretty hard!” I myself often use smiling and can at times be seen in bed with my head on the pillow, eyes shut and a smile on my face. This is when I’m kept awake with some concern or other, and whilst I may look like a dork it does help me drift back off to sleep!
So whilst smiling may not have the ability to cure sever anxiety or depression, there does seem to be a correlation between smiling and emotional wellbeing, at least in the immediate and short term. And as we live in the present, keep smiling to feel better now!
Here’s a few tips on how to increase smiling:
- Surround yourself with as many things as possible that stimulate you to smile. Maybe photos of loved ones or happy memories, jokes and funny accessories to your house, office or car. Any personal props or cues that encourage smiling.
- Develop a ‘smile database’ in your mind – images and thoughts which you can call upon at any time, regardless of where you are.
- If your preference in kinesthetic (touching and physically feeling things), identify things that evoke happy, smile inducing emotions. Maybe a pebble from a lovely holiday, your child’s strand of hair or a piece of jewelry from a loved one.
- If you’re auditory and more stimulated by sounds than visual or kinesthetic input, identify music and other auditory stimuli that encourage you to smile. Have these available on your iPod, in the car or in your mind, acting like an auditory ‘smile database’.
Go on, try smiling more today!