Updated: Feb 18
Who knew U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, would break the internet wearing his mittens and all bundled up at the Presidential inauguration? It has been funny to see so many different ways people have included Bernie in their pictures. My favorite is either Bernie sitting with Forrest Gump on a bench or the title “Old Spice” among the Spice Girls.
No, I didn’t LOL, but I did smile several times. Smiling releases endorphins in your brain to reduce stress. Researchers at the University of Kansas published findings that smiling reduces the body's response to stress and lowers heart rate in tense situations; another study linked smiling to lower blood pressure, while yet another suggests that smiling leads to longevity.
I bought a “Smile Stick” several years ago from www.thepowerofsmiling.com which was designed to help people reduce stress when they put the stick in their mouths. Studies show that when the facial muscles in your face are turned upward, parts of the brain are stimulated that control emotional responses.
A 2012 group of researchers gave study participants two sets of stressful tasks, instructing some groups to maintain smiles throughout the experiment’s stressful phases. They even gave the smile groups chopsticks to hold in their teeth to simulate smile-like muscle responses. They found that heart rates among the smiling group stayed the lowest during stress recovery.
The study’s authors concluded that, “there are both physiological and psychological benefits from maintaining positive facial expressions during stress.”
Thank you, Bernie, for helping so many people smile this last week!