As we enter winter, the weather gets worse, the clocks go back, the days get darker and shorter, all of which has a direct impact on our mood.
A third of people laugh less during the colder months, according to a new study.
The OnePoll survey found that 75% feel their mood is affected by the shorter and colder days in the fall and winter, and 61% are in dire need of a boost of positivity right now.
Are we really surprised? It’s harder to smile in an ordinary winter, in the midst of wind and rain, but this winter perhaps more so than most, with the swirling political chaos, the ongoing crisis in the cost of living and the simple fact that most of us doesn’t even turn on the heating for fear of BILLS.
But Belvita’s research also shows how important smiling can be. Smiling is as contagious as laughing, the experts say, with an average smile that spreads to three more people.
Of the 2,000 Brits surveyed, three quarters said a smile from someone brightens their day, and 28% enjoy it so much they said it’s better than receiving a gift.
Another 62% said a small smile from someone made them feel more confident and 36% said it made them want to do something nice for someone else. So why is smiling so powerful?
What is smiling good for your health?
Smiling has several positive benefits for both our physical and mental health.
As SCL Health explains, just smiling causes your brain to release small molecules called neuropeptides to fight stress. It also stimulates neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins and serantonin.
Endorphins have a mild analgesic power and the serotonin acts as an antidepressant. In fact, according to research from the University of Kansas, smiling can help us recover faster from stress and lower our heart rate.
People who smile or laugh often tend to be happier and more energetic and healthier, while those who are quite cranky feel unloved or marginalized. If that sounds like a chicken-and-egg situation — it’s hard to smile when you’re feeling down or worried — always talk to your GP if you’re struggling.
But there’s some evidence that forcing a smile can boost your mood and happiness levels.
So while it’s not great to fake a smile in company and we don’t want to come across as one of those guys who yells at you to “smile a little more, honey” as you walk to work, why try one? not one in the mirror with yourself in the morning.
Then, even if you don’t feel like it, smile at a few people today and see how you — and they — feel. Things can only get better. We hope!
(Oh, and can we recommend this silly lecture if you have to giggle completely).
Help and support:
- mindopen from Monday to Friday from 9.00-18.00 0300 123 3393.
- CALM (the campaign against living in misery) offer a helpline open 365 days a year from 5:00 pm to midnight on 0800 58 58 58, and a web chat service.
- the mix is a free support service for those under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email [email protected]
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line, which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). More information can be found at rethink.org.