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Smiling reduces stress

Two for You — take two minutes to live and lead with intention

Episode 3.12

Did you know that there is science behind that old adage of “grin and bear it”? According to research by Sarah Pressman and Tara Kraft smiling can be beneficial in stressful situations. So when you’re feeling stressed, put on a happy face and reap the rewards.



Note: Two for You written transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before referencing content in print.

[Lori] Hello and welcome to Two for You. So how often have you grinned and beared it in a difficult situation? You've heard that expression grin and bear it.

So today we're gonna talk to you about a smile and if whether or not is important to have an authentic smile or whether grinning and bearing it also makes a difference.

[Denise] Right, so Dr. Sarah Pressman is doing research on smiles. And what she found is that in one of her studies she had people smile, she asked them to smile, and then do a series of stressful activities.

And then she asked another group to simply put a chopstick in their mouth and hold on to it like this so the muscles were kind of engaging like a smile and do the same stressful activities and then a third group the neutral group.

And what she found is that people who had the sincere smile or the Duchenne smile, they had a better cardiovascular activity so lower heart rate and they also recovered from the stress faster. The people with a fake smile also had a lower heart rate and a faster recovery.

[Lori] Right, and another study that was done about Duchenne's smile, about baseball players.

[Denise] And the Duchenne smile is?

[Lori] Ya, that more authentic smile where your face and your cheekbones as well as that glow that in your eyes, as well. And you'll see through that like about this you know they say they smiled in their eyes. That's more of the Duchenne smile.

So, they looked at these baseball players that their trading cards and then they looked at how long they lived. And they found that people who had the Duchenne smiles lived longer than those baseball players who had a more stoic or a more neutral grin in their in their card.

[Denise] So, we're not asking you to go about and lead with fake smiles or work in your community with fake smiles. But what we're suggesting that you do is actually when you're in a stressful situation put on a grin.

Put on that happy face even if you're not feeling it and enjoy the benefits that it can bring. So grin and bear it this month as you live and lead with intention.

Authors: Lori Rothstein and Denise Stromme, former Extension educators

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