3 seconds to better health

Stress…we all have it, and for a multitude of different reasons.

Stress…we all know we have it, but don’t know how to reduce it.

Stress…it can make you sick and lead to health problems like:

  • depression
  • diabetes
  • hair loss
  • heart disease
  • hyperthyroidism
  • obesity
  • obsessive-compulsive or anxiety disorder
  • sexual dysfunction
  • tooth and gum disease
  • ulcers
  • cancer

So what can I do in 3 seconds?

Laughter and smiling is a simple and easy way to reduce stress and may lead to an increased immune response that can help combat these illnesses.

A 4 year old smiles 400 times a day while an average adult smiles 14.  Kids just find reasons to smile and laugh.  It can be as easy as catching a chicken:

If this video made you smile, you are:

  • using 14 facial muscles
  • sending a message to your brain that says “everything is OK”
  • sending a message to those around you that you are approachable improving your personal interactions
  • reducing your stress response

If it made you laugh, you are:

  • exercising your lungs, chests and blood pressure
  • releasing chemicals in your brain which improve you mood
  • improving your immune system, when done regularly
  • reducing your stress response

And it doesn’t matter if you really have something to smile about or you force the smile.

I actually tried this method of stress relief during some times when I was in pain.

When I was in labor with my daughter, I labored at home for about 6 hours.  I had read an article that said if you force yourself to smile, you won’t feel pain as severe and it will help you to relax.  While working through the contractions, I forced myself to smile while I did controlled breathing.  I have to say, it really helped.  I actually labored so hard at home, that I gave birth 15 minutes after the drive to the hospital.

I also used this technique during several painful medical procedures and it definitely helped.  (it also threw the doctor off completely….”OK Susan, this is going to hurt a bit.” “Great doc!” I would say with a smile.  I couldn’t help thinking of the scene with Bill Murray in “Little Shop of Horrors” where he is the sadistic dental patient smiling as Steve Martin drills away…)

Take count of how many times you smile tomorrow……

Increasing your “smile time” may just decrease your “sick time”.

Resources:

UMM laughter and heat attacks

Georgia Psychological Association

2012 study that shows forced smiling reduces stress

The video is from a blog called “Dance While You Cook”, a great resource for recipes for people who want to eat gluten and dairy-free.



Categories: cancer prevention, health, health and wellness, stress

Tags: , , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. Hi….me again. No, I am not stalking you:) I was just browsing some of your posts to see how they could be linked to my perks. I love this one. I teach stress management classes to teens and smiling is a technique I promote……this post might be a good link with my recent post about the fox/rabbit fight or flight response….just sayin’

  2. Susan, I am addicted to your writing. And I love how your blog is organized. This video definitely made me smile. I’m not sure if I told you my work….I am a Psychologist. I work mostly with kids. I always say that the body cannot tell the difference between a fake smile and a real smile, so if you fake a smile you can trick your body into sending out “feel good” hormones. We are definitely kindred spirits!

    Have you read any of Dr. Bernie Siegel’s work? I just ordered a couple of his books. He talks about how a positive attitude, humor, etc can heal.
    Florence (a.k.a Cancer Warrior)
    http://www.perksofcancer.com

    • Flippin LOVE Dr Siegel!! In fact, during my chemo I would listen to his voice as he has great meditation CDs on healing where he helps you visualize the killer-T cells kicking the cancer cell’s ass. His books on love and healing should be required reading for every patient AND medical professional out there.

      Many times I would be feeling down, and force myself to smile. Not only did it make ME feel better, but those around me “caught” the smile too. That one act is so powerful.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      • Funny you would say how you LOVE Dr. Siegel. Just this morning I was writing a blog post for later on and I say something like. “I love Dr. Siegel. I don’t just mean his work, like I really LOVE the man!”
        I have ordered his meditation c.d. as well.

  3. I used to smile alot more till I was told I smile too much and I then felt so self-conscious about it. Thank you for this 🙂 I must get back to my smiley giggly ways!

  4. Great reminder for me, even though smiling comes easy for me. 🙂 I think we underestimate its positive effects… not only on ourselves but how it helps others as well. Come on lets see those big pearly whites…

  5. I love all this data! And the story about smiling in labor. Indeed, smiling and laughing in labor is some of the best pain relief there is. Thanks for sharing.

    • I must have looked pretty weird smiling in pain, but I really think it helped. Your mind is more powerful than you think. Thanks for your comment and for allowing me to link to your site. It will be on a new section of blogs that I think others could benefit from

  6. LOVE this Sue! that video made me smile from ear to ear..so cute! And it totally kept me focused on happy vs. stressed.

  7. This is great advice! I have taken to smiling (as I breathe deeply thru my nose) when I take my daily walk — it’s amazing how many people smile back. Nice to know I’m adding a further benefit to my exercise routine. (And at work I have 22 six-year-olds who make me smile constantly!)

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