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5 Ways to Get Smiling More

Smile More


Smile, it makes you happy

Grin and bear it. We have all probably heard or thought something like this when facing a tough situation at some point in our lives, but is there any truth to this piece of advice? Feeling good usually makes us smile, but does it work the other way around? Can smiling actually make us feel better?

In a study which appeared in Psychological Science, scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman of the University of Kansas, investigated the potential benefits of smiling by looking at how different types of smiling, and the awareness of smiling, affects individuals ability to recover from episodes of stress. Their findings show that smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body's stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.

This got us to thinking about other practical ways we can get smiling – and feeling better – more often.

Here are our ideas:

1. Remember Funny Stories

Think about some of the funny things that have happened to you, or your friends and family. E.g. the time Grandad had a little too much to drink at a wedding and fell off a wall, or when you fell into a barrel of flowers you hadn't seen on the crowded platform at a train station (yes, these are both personal experiences!) anything that you found funny at the time. Recalling it will take you back to that time and should get you smiling, or even laughing, again – it worked for me just now!

2. Listen to People's Conversations

We know they say eavesdroppers never hear anything good, but it's amazing what crazy/weird/amusing and downright funny things people talk about. In my experience it's usually a group of older ladies who come up with the funniest things, and of course children. My 4 year old son makes us laugh every day with some innocent or simply brutally obvious observation. You can add these to your memory banks and use them in the same way as for number 1 too.

3. Use YouTube

There's a reason that cute animal and children videos are amongst the most watched videos on you tube. A bit like watching "You've Been Framed" you can choose to watch cute and cuddly heart-warming stuff, or the slightly crueller but, let's face it, very funny videos of people falling over, tripping, getting hit by flying objects etc. Whatever takes your fancy, watch a few videos and you'll be smiling and hopefully chuckling to yourself for the rest of the day.

4. Read "Damn You Autocorrect" (or any other funny website)

Every so often a link to this website will pop up in your Facebook news feed or on your Twitter timeline but I have been known to take myself off to the website for a good laugh when I'm having a rubbish day. If you haven't come across it yet, it's basically a list of text/messenger conversations that have headed in a whole new direction by that pesky little "helper" Autocorrect, and usually with pretty hysterical results. I have been known to laugh until I cry and my stomach hurts when reading these. Beware though, some do need a parental advisory sticker. Of course, there are lots of funny websites out there, so find one that tickles you and bookmark it.

5. Get Outside for a While

This one also works well for me. I work from home and am alone a lot of the day, so I make sure that I get outside every day at some point and have a walk (or more often these days, a run!) to get some sun on my face and fresh air in my lungs. It's amazing how simply being outside can make you feel lots better and get you smiling. I love it . And even if it isn't glorious sunshine, you can still challenge yourself to spot 5 new things you haven't seen before as you walk outside.

Going back to the research "The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress," says Pressman, "you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment. Not only will it help you 'grin and bear it' psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!" Smiling when we're facing stress can help us build resilience too. What more reason do you need to get smiling? Smile

Building resilience


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