SYLLABUS OF THEORY 4 PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT, NUTRITION, NURSING & WELFARE OF CHILDREN. Unit 5 MENTAL & EMOTIONAL HEALTH DAY 11-12
Pre Home Assignments
Learning Activity 1: Read Passage & Meditate: Should read the passage in this unit minimum 3 times. After reading each paragraph, close your eyes & think about the paragraph content for a few minutes. Also do the preparations for the Live Class Lesson Activities.
Learning Activities for Live Class Session:
Learning Activity 1: Guest Class: Arrange a guest class related to stress relief, mental and emotional health by a person having qualification and or experience in it. If any student has such eligibility she can do it. After the class, prepare a brief note regarding these topics in 2 A4 pages in the Theory Assignment Book. Lesson Committee member students give welcome, vote of thanks and anchor the program.
Learning Activity 2: Discussion: Arrange a discussion regarding Smiles and its importance. All participants share their knowledge and experience regarding smile and its importance. One student anchors the program.
Learning Activity 3: Open Forum to Collect Tips: Collect maximum tips related to mental and emotional health from all the participants. One student coordinates / anchors the program and invite one by one to participate in the program. Collected tips written in your Theory Assignment Book.
Learning Activity 4: Group Discussion: Arrange a Group Discussion like in TV. All students are participating in the discussion.
Round 1: Purpose and objectives of learning and practicing the content in this theory unit
Round 2: How to apply the knowledge and the ideas in this unit in your life, career and in society.
Learning Activity 5: Learning activity as per students’ choice. Conduct a learning activity as per the choice of lesson activities coordinating group.
Self-Home Assignments & with classmates:
Learning Activity 1: Self Speech in front of Mirror: Do a Self-Speech about smile and its benefits in front of the mirror by following all the formalities and techniques of public speech.
Learning Activity 2: Pair TV Interview with a Health Worker: One takes the role of a specialist in emotional health and the other one takes the role of an anchor. Sub: emotional health and effective tips for emotional health. Faculty prepare the list & put it in the group.
Learning Activity 3: Self Speech in front of Mirror: Do a Self-Speech regarding short term stress relief strategies in front of the mirror by following all the formalities and techniques of public speech.
Learning Activity 4: Pair TV Interview with a Health Worker: One takes the role of a specialist and the other one takes the role of an anchor. Sub: long term stress relief strategies and tips. Faculty prepare the list & put it in the group.
Individual & pair learning activities as Post Home Assignments:
Learning Activity 1: Self Meditation: Practice self-visualization meditation: How to make or change your smile while dealing with people you interact with regularly.
From minor challenges to major crises, stress is part of life. And while you can’t always control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them.
When stress becomes overwhelming, or it’s chronic, it can take a toll on your well-being. That’s why it’s important to have effective stress relievers that can calm your mind and your body.
Although stress and anxiety may arise in your workplace and personal life, there are many simple ways to reduce the pressure you feel.
These tips often involve getting your mind away from the source of stress.
For a healthy life it is essential to be without tensions. Tensions have a detrimental effect on the nervous system, digestion, sleep, blood pressure, muscles etc. leading to toxicity and innumerable diseases.
Indication of mental Tension
1. Sleeplessness or disturbed sleep, nightmares.
2. Irritability and anger.
3. Talking about one’s own problems.
4. Unable to concentrate.
5. Chewing nails and shaking the knees while sitting.
6. Fear of unexpected happenings.
Tips for Relieving Stress
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to stress relief, however. What works for one person might not work for another. And what works for you at home might not be an option when you’re at work or in the community (dancing around your living room might be helpful but dancing in the grocery store might not be). So it’s important to have a variety of stress relief tools at your disposal. Then, you’ll be able to pick a strategy that works best for your current circumstances.
SHORT-TERM STRESS-RELIEF STRATEGIES
Whether you’re about to be interviewed for a job or you’re feeling overwhelmed by your child’s behaviour at the playground, it’s important to have some stress reduction tools that can lower your stress right now.
The best short-term strategies:
1. Try Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is like taking a short vacation in your mind. It can involve imagining yourself being in your “happy place”—maybe picturing yourself sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, smelling the ocean, and feeling the warm sand underneath you. Guided imagery can be done with a recording where you listen to someone walk you through a peaceful scene. Or, once you know how to do it yourself, you can practice guided imagery on your own. Simply close your eyes for a minute and walk yourself through a peaceful scene. Think about all the sensory experiences you’d engage in and allow yourself to feel as though you’re really there. After a few minutes, open your eyes and return to the present moment.
Meditation brings short-term stress relief as well as lasting stress management benefits. There are many different forms of meditation to try–each one is unique and brings its own appeal. You might develop a mantra that you repeat in your mind as you take slow deep breaths. Or, you might take a few minutes to practice mindfulness, which involves being in the moment. Simply pay attention to what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. When you’re focused on the here-and-now, you won’t be able to ruminate about something that already happened and you can’t worry about something in the future. Meditation and mindfulness take practice, but it can make a big difference in your overall stress level.
3. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment. It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking. There are several methods for increasing mindfulness, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga and meditation. A recent study in college students suggested that mindfulness may help increase self-esteem, which in turn lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression. Mindfulness practices can help lower symptoms of anxiety and depression.
4. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group. To practice, you can start with a few deep breaths. Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes.
With practice, you’ll learn to recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you’ll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice, however, you should experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body.
5. Focus on Breathing & Deep breathing
Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signalling your body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode. During this reaction, stress hormones are released and you experience physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing and constricted blood vessels. Deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response. There are several types of deep breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing and paced respiration.
The goal of deep breathing is to focus your awareness on your breath, making it slower and deeper. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises.
This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more peaceful.
Deep breathing activates the relaxation response. Multiple methods can help you learn how to breathe deeply. Just focusing on your breath or changing the way you breathe can make a big difference to your overall stress level. Breathing techniques can calm your body and your brain in just a few minutes. The best news is, no one around you will even know you’re doing them. So whether you’re in a stressful meeting or you’re sitting in a crowded theatre, breathing exercises could be key to reducing your stress.
While there are many different breathing exercises, like karate breathing, a few simple ones include:
1. Breathe in through your nose and watch your belly fill with air. Count slowly to three as you inhale. Hold for one second and then slowly breathe out through your nose as you count to three again.
2. Breathe in through your nose and imagine that you’re inhaling peaceful, calm air. Imagine that air spreading throughout your body. As you exhale, imagine that you’re breathing out stress and tension.
6. Take a Walk
Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever that can work in minutes. Taking a walk allows you to enjoy a change of scenery, which can get you into a different frame of mind, and brings the benefits of exercise as well. So whether you just need to take a stroll around the office to get a break from a frustrating task or you decide to go for a long walk in the park after work, walking is a simple but effective way to rejuvenate your mind and body.
7. Write it down
One way to handle stress is to write things down. While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for. Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life. Keeping a journal can help relieve stress and anxiety, especially if you focus on the positive.
Cuddling, kissing, hugging and sex can all help relieve stress. Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are physical symptoms of stress. Interestingly, humans aren’t the only animals who cuddle for stress relief. Chimpanzees also cuddle friends who are stressed. Positive touch from cuddling, hugging, kissing and sex may help lower stress by releasing oxytocin and lowering blood pressure.
Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial. When you hug someone, oxytocin (also known as the “cuddle hormone”) is released. Oxytocin is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress.
Oxytocin also causes a reduction in blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation. So don’t be afraid to ask a loved one for a hug if you need it. It’s good for both of you and it can be one of the simplest forms of stress relief available. Having a pet may also help relieve stress by giving you purpose, keeping you active and providing companionship — all qualities that help reduce anxiety. Interacting with pets may help release oxytocin, a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood.
9. Listen to soothing music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body. Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones. Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too. Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why they’re often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music. Listening to music you like can be a good way to relieve stress. Spending time with your pet is a relaxing, enjoyable way to reduce stress.
10. Enjoy Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has real benefits for stress relief—it can help you to feel energized, more relaxed, or more present in the moment. Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it’s called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health. Emerging research suggests certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body. Using essential oils or burning a scented candle may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
Some scents are especially soothing. Here are some of the most calming scents:
• Roman chamomile
• Ylang ylang
• Orange or orange blossom
Using scents to treat your mood is called aromatherapy. Several studies show that aromatherapy can decrease anxiety and improve sleep.
11. Create Artwork
Getting in touch with your creative side may have been easy for you during childhood, but if you’ve lost touch with your penchant for artwork, it’s not too late to pick it up again. If you aren’t into drawing or painting, consider colouring in a colouring book. Adult colouring books have risen in popularity and for good reason—colouring can be a great stress reliever. Research consistently shows that colouring can have a meditative effect. One study found that anxiety levels decline in people who were colouring complex geometric patterns, making it a perfect outlet for stress reduction.
LONG-TERM STRESS-RELIEF STRATEGIES FOR LASTING HEALTH
Certain habits can promote resilience to stress, as well as increase overall wellness. For example, those who exercise or meditate regularly tend to become less stressed in the face of a difficult challenge. So it’s important to create a lifestyle that will help you ward off stress and deal with challenges in a healthy way. Your long-term stress relief tips:
1. Eat a Balanced Diet & Food Supplements
A poor diet can bring greater reactivity toward stress. Emotional eating and reaching for high-fat, high-sugar foods can provide a temporary sense of relief that adds to your long-term stress. Refined carbs, like cookies and potato chips, can cause a spike in blood sugar. When your blood sugar crashes, you might experience more stress and anxiety. Consuming a healthy diet can help you combat stress over the long haul. Foods like eggs, avocado, and walnuts support mood regulation and energy balance.
Several supplements promote stress and anxiety reduction. Here is a brief overview of some of the most common ones:
• Lemon balm: Lemon balm is a member of the mint family that has been studied for its anti-anxiety effects.
• Omega-3 fatty acids: One study showed that medical students who received omega-3 supplements experienced a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms.
• Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat stress and anxiety. Several studies suggest that it’s effective.
• Green tea: Green tea contains many polyphenol antioxidants which provide health benefits. It may lower stress and anxiety by increasing serotonin levels.
• Valerian: Valerian root is a popular sleep aid due to its tranquilizing effect. It contains valerenic acid, which alters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors to lower anxiety.
• Kava kava: Kava kava is a psychoactive member of the pepper family. Long used as a sedative in the South Pacific, it is increasingly used in Europe and the US to treat mild stress and anxiety.
Some supplements can interact with medications or have side effects, so you may want to consult with a doctor if you have a medical condition.
Certain supplements can reduce stress and anxiety, including ashwagandha, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea and lemon balm. High doses of Caffeine can increase anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. People have different thresholds for how much caffeine they can tolerate. If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back. Although many studies show that coffee can be healthy in moderation, it’s not for everyone. In general, fewer cups per day is considered a moderate amount.
2. Make Time for Leisure Activities
Leisure activities can be a wonderful way to relieve stress. Yet, many people feel as though their lives are too busy for hobbies, games, or extra fun. But building time for leisure into your schedule could be key to helping you feel your best. And when you feel better, you’ll perform better, which means leisure time may make your work time more efficient. Whether you find joy in caring for a garden or you like making quilts, hobbies and leisure are key to living your best life.
3. Develop a Positive Self-Talk Habit
The way you talk to yourself matters. Harsh self-criticism, self-doubt, and catastrophic predictions aren’t helpful. If you’re constantly thinking things like, “I don’t have time for this,” and “I can’t stand this,” you’ll stress yourself out. It’s important to learn to talk to yourself in a more realistic, compassionate manner. When you call yourself names or doubt your ability to succeed, reply with a kinder inner dialogue. Positive self-talk can help you develop a healthier outlook. And an optimistic and compassionate conversation can help you manage your emotions and take positive action.
4. Practice Yogasan
Yoga combines physical movement, meditation, light exercise, and controlled breathing—all of which provide excellent stress relief. Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups. While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal — to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yoga’s effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety.
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction. In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
It may help lower cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate and increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that is lowered in mood disorders.
Yoga is widely used for stress reduction. It may help lower stress hormone levels and blood pressure.
And while you’re likely to reap immediate benefits from a single yoga session, you’re likely to receive long-term benefits if you incorporate it into your life in a consistent way. Yoga offers a variety of physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits. To get started, you might take a class, enrol in an online program, or use an app to help you begin practicing.
5. Express Gratitude
Gratitude helps you recognize all the things you have to be thankful for. Whether you’re grateful for a sunny day or thankful you arrived at work safely, think about all the good things you have in life. Gratitude also reminds you of all of the resources you have to cope with stress, which can be quite empowering. Studies also show grateful people enjoy better mental health, lower stress, and a better quality of life. So whether you decide to make it a habit to identify what you’re grateful for as you sit around the dinner table or you decide to write down three things you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal every day, make gratitude a regular habit.
6. Prioritize Exercise
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress. It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress. The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t exercise.
There are a few reasons behind this:
• Stress hormones: Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones — such as cortisol — in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
• Sleep: Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.
• Confidence: When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.
• Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga.
Activities — such as walking or jogging — that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.
Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and improving your sleep and self-image. Physical activity is key to managing stress and improving mental health. And the best news is, there are many different kinds of activities that can reduce your stress. Join a gym, take a class, or exercise outside. Keep in mind that there are many different ways to get more physical activity in your day too. Walking, strength training, kayaking, hiking, aerobics and spin class are just a few different examples of ways you can get stress relief.
8. Spend time with friends and family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times. Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times. One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called “tend and befriend,” and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.
Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
Having strong social ties may help you get through stressful times and lower your risk of anxiety.
It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing. It’s good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
• Relieving your stress response.
• Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles. In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted. Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh. Find the humour in everyday life, spend time with funny friends or watch a comedy show to help relieve stress.
10. Learn to say no
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are. Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress. One way to do this may be to say “no” more often. This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, as juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Being selective about what you take on — and saying no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load — can reduce your stress levels. Try not to take on more than you can handle. Saying no is one way to control your stressors.
11. Strategies That Engage in Problem-Focused Coping
Most stress relievers focus on changing your emotions. But sometimes, you won’t necessarily get relief until you change the environment. This is referred to as problem-focused coping (as opposed to emotion-focused coping). Problem-focused coping involves taking steps to remove the stressor from your life (as opposed to changing how you feel about the stressor).
12. Reassess Your To-Do Lists
If you’re trying to squeeze 20 hours’ worth of work into 16 hours, you’re going to feel stressed. Reducing your workload could be key to helping you get through the day feeling better. Whether that means stepping away from a committee you joined or it involves hiring someone to complete some of your household chores for you, Honing your time management skills can allow you to minimize the stressors that you experience, and better manage the ones you can’t avoid. When you are able to complete everything on your “to do” list without the stress of rushing or forgetting, your whole life feels easier.
13. Obtain Social Support
Having supportive people in your life is the key to stress management. If you lack emotional support and friendship, it’s important to get it. That may mean reaching out to your existing network. Perhaps confiding in a family member or distant friend can help you become closer and it may give you the social support you need. You may also need to expand your network. Join an organization, attend a support group, or get professional help if you lack supportive people in your life.
14. Cut out Things That Add to Your Stress
Sometimes, the best way to reduce your stress is to cut something out of your life. Get rid of the things that are adding to your stress so you can experience more peace. Watching the news, being constantly connected to your digital devices, drinking alcohol, and consuming too much caffeine are just a few of the things that may add more stress to your life. Making some changes to your daily habits could be instrumental in helping you feel better.
15. A Word from Very well
Finding the best stress relief strategies may take some experimenting. Some strategies may take practice too. But it’s important to keep looking for the tools that will help you manage life’s inevitable ups and downs in a healthy way. Keeping stress at a manageable level is important for your overall well-being.
16. Learn to avoid procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating. Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks. Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality. Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list. Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself. Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. They’re able to cope with life’s challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships. Being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time. It means you’re aware of your emotions. You can deal with them, whether they’re positive or negative. Emotionally healthy people still feel stress, anger, and sadness. But they know how to manage their negative feelings. They can tell when a problem is more than they can handle on their own. They also know when to seek help from their doctor. Research shows that emotional health is a skill. There are steps you can take to improve your emotional health and be happier.
Emotional health allows you to work productively and cope with the stresses of everyday life. It can help you realize your full potential. It helps you work with other people and contribute to society. It also affects your physical health. Research shows a link between an upbeat mental state and physical signs of good health. These include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and a healthier weight.
There are many ways to improve or maintain good emotional health:
• Be aware of your emotions and reactions. Notice what in your life makes you sad, frustrated, or angry. Try to address or change those things.
• Express your feelings in appropriate ways. Let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside adds to stress. It can cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.
• Think before you act. Give yourself time to think and be calm before you say or do something you might regret.
• Manage stress. Learn relaxation methods to cope with stress. These could include deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.
• Strive for balance. Find a healthy balance between work and play, and between activity and rest. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.
• Take care of your physical health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. Keep your physical health from affecting your emotional health.
• Connect with others. Make a lunch date, join a group, and say hi to strangers. We need positive connections with other people.
• Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what’s important to you in life, and focus on that. This could be your work, your family, volunteering, caregiving, or something else. Spend your time doing what feels meaningful to you.
• Stay positive. Focus on the good things in your life. Forgive yourself for making mistakes and forgive others. Spend time with healthy, positive people.
SMILE & ITS BENEFITS
We need to smile more because everyone likes being smiled at. Smiling and laughing boost well-being, but as we make the transition from childhood to adulthood, we often forget to smile as much as we used to. Here we talk about the benefits of a smile and what you can do to get in the mood more often.
Smiling makes you more attractive. It lifts your mood and the mood of everyone around you. And it is infectious and even keeps you living longer. Did you know that we’re even born smiling? Ultrasounds have found babies to be smiling in the womb, and after the babies are born, they continue to mostly smile, especially in their sleep.
The Science of Smiling
Ever wonder what really happens in our brain when we smile? It is a neurological response that affects the muscles in our face. When you experience a positive feeling, like seeing a puppy or eating a pizza, signals are transmitted from your cortex to your brain stem, to the cranial muscles, to the facial muscles used for smiling. When the facial muscles contract in a smile, the positive feedback is sent to the brain. Through all that, we experience a rush of endorphins and other chemicals that induce happiness and positivity, much like what happens after an intense and satisfying workout. Only stronger.
How Smiling Affects your Brain
Each time you smile your brain feels really happy. Smiling activates the release of feel-good-messengers that work towards fighting stress. These messengers help you experience a whole range of emotions, from happiness to sadness, anger to depression. When a smile flashes across your face; dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released into your bloodstream, making not only your body relax but also work to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Endorphins are natural painkillers – 100% naturally produced by your own body, without the negative effects of medication.
How Smiling Affects Your Body
When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re seen as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere. Scientists found that seeing an attractive smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain processing sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel that you’re being rewarded.
How Smiling Affects Other People
Smiling is infectious, because the part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another person’s smile is located in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area. In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of different emotions, including joy, fear, anger, and surprise. The participants were told to frown when shown a smiling person. Instead, as you might have already guessed, participants echoed the emotions of the people rather than following the researcher’s instructions.
Health Benefits of Smiling
Smiling has well-documented social benefits. A genuine smile can make you seem more likable, attractive, intelligent and even trustworthy. But did you know that smiling more often—regardless of your mood—can improve your health and help you live longer? Discover seven of the surprising health benefits of smiling. Whether you call it a grin, smirk, beam or smile, there’s no denying the feel-good power of this happy facial expression. We are born with the ability to smile, yet as we age, we smile less often. Research shows that children smile an average of 400 times per day, compared to the average happy adult who smiles 40-50 times per day and the typical adult who smiles only 20 times per day. Why is smiling important? Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including:
• Reduced blood pressure
• Increased endurance
• Reduced pain
• Reduced stress
• Strengthened immune system
Furthermore, studies show that people who smile appear more likeable, courteous and competent. Smilers tend to be more productive at work and make more money.
Want to increase your daily smile average to take advantage of these benefits? The first step is easy, start your day with a smile. Smiling is contagious, and when we smile we activate neurons in the brain that fire a synchronizing feature. You’ll notice that one smile will lead to additional smiles not just for you, but for those around you.
Top Reasons You Should Smile Every Day
Many see smiling simply as an involuntary response to things that bring you joy or laughter. While this observation is certainly true, what most people overlook is that smiling can be just as much a voluntary response as a conscious and powerful choice. Countless scientific studies have confirmed that a genuine smile is generally considered attractive to others around us. Other studies have shed light on how the act of smiling can elevate your mood and the mood of those around you. A strong link has been found between good health, longevity, and smiling. Most importantly, studies have shown that just the act of smiling (making the physical facial shapes and movements), whether the result of real joy or an act, can have both short- and long-term benefits on people’s health and wellbeing.
Still not convinced? Here are the top 10 reasons you should make a conscious effort to smile every day.
1. Positive Thoughts & Mood
Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard, isn’t it? Even when a smile feels unnatural or forced, it still sends the brain and ultimately the rest of our body the message that “Life is Good!” Stay away from depression, stress, and worry by smiling. Smiling can boost your mood when you’re feeling blue, and may be beneficial for people struggling with anxiety and depression. A 2010 study found that making yourself smile when you’re feeling down helps improve your mood and increases positive thoughts. So, if you’re having a bad day, try smiling anyway—it may lead to a genuine smile and lift your spirits.
2. Smiling Makes Us Attractive
We are naturally drawn to people who smile. There is a real physical attraction factor linked to the act of smiling. Not surprisingly, more severe or negative facial expressions like frowns, scowls, and grimaces actually work in the opposite manner, effectively pushing people away. Instead, use the attraction power of your smile to draw people in.
3. Smiling Relieves Stress
Stress can permeate our entire being, and can really show up in our faces. Smiling not only helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed but can actually help reduce stress.
Believe it or not, smiling can reduce stress even if you don’t feel like smiling or even know that you’re smiling! When you are stressed, take the time to put on a smile. You and those around you will reap the benefits.
4. Smiling Elevates Our Mood
Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance your mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you elevate your mood because the physical act of smiling actually activates neural messaging in your brain. A simple smile can trigger the release of neural communication boosting neuropeptides as well as mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Think of smiling like a natural antidepressant.
5. Smiling Is Contagious
How many smiles have been described as having the power to lighten up the room? While it is certainly a beautiful sentiment, it carries a hint of truth. Smiling not only has the power to elevate your mood, but it can also change the moods of others and make things happier.
The part of your brain that is responsible for controlling the facial expression of smiling is an unconscious automatic response area. Meaning that smiling can be completely unconscious, particularly when it comes to our habit of mimicking another person’s smile. Yes, it is scientifically proven that smiles are “contagious!”
6. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System
Smiling can also boost your overall health. The act of smiling actually helps the human immune system to function more effectively. It is thought that when you smile, immune function improves because you are more relaxed (thanks to the release of certain neurotransmitters). In addition to taking precautions like washing your hands, why not try to prevent the cold and flu by smiling?
7. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure
When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?
8. Smiling Makes Us Feel Good
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin. Together these three neurotransmitters make us feel good from head to toe. Not only do these natural chemicals elevate your mood, but they also relax your body and reduce physical pain. Smiling is a natural drug.
9. Smiling Makes You Look Younger
Not only can smiling make you more attractive, it can also make you look more youthful. The muscles we use to smile also lift the face, making a person appear younger. So instead of opting for a facelift, just try smiling your way through the day—you’ll look younger and feel better.
10. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful
Studies have shown that people who smile regularly appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and are more likely to be approached. Try putting on a smile at meetings and business appointments. You might find that people react to you differently.
11. Rapport & Better Relationships
Have you noticed that you’re drawn to people who smile a lot? People who smile are perceived as being more likable than people who don’t smile, according to one 2014 study. Being likable makes it easier to build and maintain better relationships with people, which is important for your overall health and well-being. A 2010 study found that people with positive emotions have more stable marriages and better interpersonal skills than people with negative emotions. So, keep a smile on your face to help create stronger, healthier social bonds.
12. Pain Relief
Pain relief might be the last thing you’d associate with smiling and laughter, but there are, indeed, links. Mayo Clinic reports that laughter causes your body to release its own natural painkillers. And a 2012 study found that social laughter increases your pain threshold, creating a higher pain tolerance. So, if you’re in pain due to an injury, illness or chronic disease, watch a funny movie, attend a comedy show or hang out with friends and family who make you smile.
13. Longer Life
It turns out that the fountain of youth might be right under your nose. A 2010 study found that smiling and positive emotions are associated with increased life spans. Talk about a reason to smile!
14. It Boosts Your Confidence
A smile makes you more attractive. People are drawn towards those who smile a lot. This gives your confidence and self-esteem a boost. It is similar to changing some aspect of your appearance to feel more confident.
15. It Boosts Productivity
Multitasking can lead to stress, which makes it near impossible to focus on more than one task at a time. Smiling boosts your productivity and helps you do more. Take a break and read an article, listen to songs, or look at funny cat memes.
How to Laugh and Smile More Often
1. Smile and laugh more often: the brain does not know the difference between a fake and real smile. If you’re feeling down or notice that you’ve not smiled in a while, fake one. The more often you fake a smile, the more likely smiling will become a more natural habit.
2. Watch funny TV shows, films, and theatre: by avoiding negative media, you can balance yourself to feel more light-hearted and happy, and you’ll have a real reason to have a big grin.
3. Spend time with positive people: surrounding yourself with fun-loving and optimistic people will bring out your cheery side, and their behaviour will rub off on you, lifting your spirits.
We can’t always control what happens to us, but smiling and laughing more often can really change your internal and external experience, and brighten your perspective on life. So just keep smiling!
Module Developed by: Baba Alexander