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 Marcia Purse

Even More Reason to Smile

By September 5, 2012

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Smiling is good for you!A dozen years ago we wrote about the benefits of smiling. Research had found that smiling caused involuntary changes in body, perception and mood. And you don't have to be in a good mood for the smile to do you some good - it's the physical act alone that works. (The same applies to frowning, by the way, so replacing a frown with a completely fake smile will have an even better effect.)

I learned long ago that smiling can improve your tone of voice. If I was in a tense mood at the office when the phone rang, I'd force a smile before picking up the receiver and saying, "Word Processing, this is Marcia, how can I help you?" My co-workers knew I was doing this and used to crack up, but it worked. My voice sounded pleasant every time.

Now comes new evidence that smiling is good for you. Research reported today found that smiling reduces your heart rate and other stress responses. MSNBC suggests you try it when you're stuck in traffic. For the scoop and some suggestions on how to help yourself smile when it's really hard, read What's In a Smile?

Reference: Shortsleeve, C. "Smiling May Lower Your Heart Rate." MSNBC

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March 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm
(1) Sharon Dennis says:

Yes! For years I faked smiling because I didn’t feel like it. It’s nice to know that forcing smiles did me some good. I have finally (after 10 years!) feel like me again. I can smile and mean it now.

March 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm
(2) Karen Tyrrell says:

Hi, my name is Karen,
I’m an Australian mental health advocate,
I’ve recovered from bipolar disorder and haven’t had an episode for six years.
I agree that smiling and being positive had profound effect on improving my moods and help me become stable.
My Recovery story is now on a government Health website … Karen’s Story where I share my strategies for recovery.
Karen :)

March 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm
(3) Marilyn says:

A merry heart… somewhere in the Bible…is like medicine. So why not the smile. It alleviates some of that depression,. It is like it is fooling your own body. People are more friendly to someone who smiles a lot (faking it or not) and tht give you more positive feedback. It is a great idea all around. It is hard to smile when you are depressed,but nice to know that people miss your smile when you are not around.

March 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm
(4) Sue Cunningham says:

I’ve been smiling since 1968 when first diagnosed. Discovery: You can smile if you aren’t feeling good and you can smile if everything is going down the toilet. The ones at whom you smile may be going through something a lot worse than you. I get a smile in return almost 100% of the time :) .

March 7, 2012 at 1:07 am
(5) Kerstin says:

I fake smiles all the time because I don’t want to bring others down by outwardly showing my depression. I’ve read that smiling helps foster a more positive mood. I’ve also tried out different smiling exercises around others to elicit a positive reaction from them that may help me feel happier in return. The positive effect never happens to me. I find the longer I’m faking smiling ie in an unavoidable social situation, the bigger the crash back into depression afterwards.

The other issue is that because I fake my smiles I then have friends and acquaintances telling me I can’t possibly have bipolar because I’m such a happy person so why do I see a psychiatrist and take medication. This in turn makes me feel like a phony, a liar or a hypochondriac, which just adds to the depression. I feel totally invalidated as a person. So I tend to avoid social situations during episodes of depression.

March 7, 2012 at 5:44 am
(6) Dr Eon Sonnekus says:

Dear Marcia, Thank you for your hard work. You always address relevant and interesting topics with regard to Bipolar Disorder.
Kind regards.

March 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm
(7) Melina Connidis says:

Myself I think fake smiling is like anytthing thats not genuine,.!
A fake cast, doesnt heal your leg,,a wig doesnt heal Cancer I find fake smiling difficult t do and dont take the fake route when I am depressed
I might smile with my lips but not an open toothy smiile
This is how i am and i think Women (or men) might try to stop all of this faking!
Ii think even if you are really depressed and you are out iin public, you arent sitting with your frown down to your toes, even if it feels that way. Mabe its the media that wants us to feel we have to always smile? alwyas be happy happy happy we think that is the norm..Its not
Just as the media may make us feel we must be flawlessly beautiful?we arent
hiding behind a fake smile is like hiding who you are,,the real you.
If we are finally getting Mental Health out of the dark ages why must we still try and hide WHO we are and how we are TRULY feeling?? Thanks for your time.

Age 47 Manic Deperssive Illness since age 17, (30 years)

March 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm
(8) Marilyn says:

The smiling is more for your own good than to give an impression to other people. Even with BiPolar, we have so much to be thankful for and somewhat happy about. Look around you, there is always something. It might be something silly to others, but it can be a bit of joy to you. I don’t mean we should be the person that only appreciates what we have compared to others troubles, but to enjoy what is out there. Even silly kids in a park arguing about some insignificant thing. IS OUT THERE.
See the humor in the ridiculous. watch a couple of birds each trying for the same crumb when there are many crumbs around. Is this making sense to anyone. We don’t have to fake a big toothy grin. We are not doing this for the rest of the world, we are doing it for ourselves.

March 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm
(9) Annie says:

Hi Yes I fake smiles all the time! what is good though is that when people smile back at me I then smile for real!
I fake a smile on the telephone as I know it can carry throught the phone line and friends and family can hear that I am ok x

March 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm
(10) Lost.Cause says:

I put on my “happy mask” when I’m around others. Unfortunately, when I am finally alone, I am exhausted from trying to look like I’m OK.

March 10, 2012 at 3:45 am
(11) Linda says:

In “The King and I” there’s a song called “whistle a happy tune” which is the same as fake smile. I convince myself that there’s something to smile about, even if it’s just for a moment, and I can smile. But I have to be convinced and sometimes, even for the moment, that’s difficult.

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