Smiling is a contentious issue in American society, whether you are on the side of the permanently perky or that of the people who may not constantly be in a great mood.
Perhaps you’ve worked in a workplace where it is decreed one must smile even over the phone, because the person you are calling can hear a smile in your voice, whether or not you are actually happy.
Forcing a smile has also been an issue of frustration for women, many of whom say that men will frequently complain and demand they smile if they do not appear constantly happy.
But whether you’re of the school of thought a smile never hurt anyone or you feel smiling is a tool of the patriarchy that is used to force women to behave as decoration, smiling could work to reduce anxiety and stress — whether you are “feeling it,” or not.
According to a new study that examined both standard smiles (using just mouth muscles) and genuine smiles (employing eye muscles in addition to mouth muscles), smiling may help you reduce stress in certain situations regardless of how you feel internally.
Sarah Pressman, PhD, of the University of Kansas, worked on the study and said of the results:
“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment… Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!”
The study is set to be published in the journal Psychological Science.