Updated: Apr 26
As I sit to write this blog we are all experiencing the unprecedented times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us this is a stressful and destablising period in our lives as we are no longer able to follow daily routines or reach out to loved ones in a familiar way.
I believe in the power of a smile and how it can increase our wellbeing, however what is the impact this simple gesture can have on ourselves? Instead of speaking anecdotally, I wanted to look for some literature which can reinforce this notion. I would like to stress that I am not a psychologist, but as an Osteopath, educator and coach I am curious to find out how smiling could help us manage in these challenging times.
If we go back to basics it is well documented that we begin to develop our emotionality in infancy. There is a plethora of studies that discuss the link with how the behaviours of infants impact upon those of adults (Piazza, et al, 2019; Stark, et al, 2019).
As we grow we begin to associate language to emotions through our experiences, a study by Fino (et al, 2016) discussed their findings from observing how individuals responded to reading text. They concluded that when reading action words (to smile) results in the reader smiling, when we read emotions (to enjoy) our brain reproduces this and as a result we feel those associated emotions. Interestingly as I noticed that I reproduced these reactions in my own body from reading them, I wonder if you will too when reading this.
In the current climate being able to tap into our happy emotions can have many benefits. I find that if I give myself time during the day to pause and connect with things such as reading and writing self-affirmations, visualising my ‘happy space’, listening to music that brings back memories or inhaling my favourite essential oils enables me to smile and initiate my positive and resourceful mindset. Give yourself the opportunity to discover how a simple smile can help you manage your day.
I would be interested to hear what you have found to make you smile and how this impacts upon you during these times, please reach out to me if you would like to discuss.
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Fino. E., Menegatti. M., Avenanti. A., Rubini. M. 2016. Enjoying Vs. smiling: Facial muscular activation in response to emotional language.Biology Psychology, [online] 18, 126-135. Available at <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051116301764> [Accessed April 25, 2020]
Piazza. E.A., Hasenfratz. L., Hasson. U., Lew-William. C. 2019. Infant and Adult Brains Are Coupled to the Dynamics of Natural Communication. Psychology Science, [online] 1, 6-17. Available at <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31845827> [Accessed April 25 2020].
Stark. E.A., Cabral. J., Riem. M.M.E., Van Ijzendoorn. M. H., Stein. A., Kringelback. M.L. 2019. The Power of Smiling: The Adult Brain Networks Underlying Learned Infant Emotion. Cerebral Cortex, [online] 00, 1-11. Available at <https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article-abstract/30/4/2019/5673616>[Accessed April 25 2020].