Every so often, I receive emails from Ron Ringlien, a wellness coach in California. Somehow or another, I ended up on his distribution list to receive his regular wellness tips.
This week’s tip from Ron included information about a 2012 University of Kansas study that required participants to hold a variety of facial expressions while enduring stress-provoking situations, such as tracing a star shape using their non-dominant hand working off a mirror reflection or plunging a hand into ice water.
The researchers monitored the heart rates of the subjects both during and after the tasks. Subjects who had been told to smile while performing the tasks had lower heart rates than those told to maintain neutral expressions. Although the greatest difference was found in those who were asked to keep a “Duchenne” smile (one that’s most similar to a true smile) on their faces, even the participants who smiled just with their mouths only had lower heart rates than those keeping a neutral face. In fact, blood pressure rates were also noted to be lower in many of the smiling volunteers.
The study suggests that any sort of smile — even a fake smile — can be beneficial to one’s health. And this, I think, is fantastic news.
We know this already to some extent, don’t we? After all, the sayings “Fake it til you make it,” and “Grin and bear it,” didn’t come out of nowhere, right?
But now, there is science. Smiling science, people.
Science that you can share with your employees to promote your wellness program. Or, as a way to launch a wellness program. We know that people are more likely to take part when the barriers to participation are low. What’s lower than smiling? You already have everything you need to participate right on your face. Love it.
So, go get your smile on. Here’s something to get you started. And of course, share your (happy) thoughts in the comments.
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