As we transition into winter, the weather gets worse, the clocks go back, the days get darker and shorter, and all this has a direct impact on our mood.
A third of people smile less during the colder months, according to a new study.
The OnePoll survey found 75% feel their mood is affected by the shorter and colder days of autumn and winter, and 61% are in dire need of a boost of positivity right now.
Are we really surprised? It’s harder to crack a smile in a regular winter, amid the wind and rain, but this winter more than most perhaps, with the swirling political chaos, the ongoing cost of living crisis, and the simple fact that most of us haven’t even put the heating on yet, for fear of BILLS.
But the Belvita study also highlights how important smiling can be. Smiling is as infectious as laughter, say the experts, with the average smile passing on to three more people.
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The power of a smile!
Of the 2000 Brits surveyed, three quarters shared that a smile from someone brightens their day, and 28% enjoy it so much, they said it’s better than receiving a gift.
A further 62% said a small smile from someone left them feeling 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, the very act of smiling makes your brain release tiny molecules called neuropeptides to fight off stress. It also stimulates neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins and serantonin.
Endorphins have a mild pain relieving power and the serotonin acts as an antidepressant. Smiling can even help us recover faster from stress and reduce our heart rate, according to research from the University of Kansas.
People who smile or laugh often are usually happier and more energetic and healthier, while those who feel quite grumpy unloved or marginalized. If that sounds like a chicken / egg situation – it’s hard to smile when you’re feeling down or worried, after all – always talk to your GP if you’re struggling.
But there is evidence that forcing a smile can boost your mood and happiness levels.
So while it’s not great to fake smile in company and we don’t want to come across like one of those men that catcalls you to “smile a bit more, luv” on your walk to work, why not try one in the mirror with yourself in the morning.
Then, even if you don’t feel like it, crack a few smiles at people today and see how it makes you – and them – feel. Things can only get better. We hope!
(Oh, and can we recommend this silly read if you need a full-on giggle).
Help and support:
- minopen Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
- CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
- the mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email email@example.com
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.