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Just grin and bear it. Oh, and reduce your stress, too.
In a recent experiment at the University of Kansas, college students were instructed to hold chopsticks in their mouths to simulate either a smile or neutral expression. Afterwards, they were subjected to a stressful situation.
The outcome? Those who had smiles on their faces had lower heart rates and reduced stress responses compared to their straight-faced counterparts.
Researchers believe that activating certain facial muscles – like those used to smile – sends a message to your brain: You’re happy. Calm down.
Lead researcher Sarah Pressman, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Kansas, explains: “It’s not just that our brains are happy and make us smile, it can also be the opposite – we feel the smile and become happy,” she says.
What about lowering your heart rate? “If you’re happy, you perceive stress differently and feel less threatened,” says Pressman.
But here’s the kicker: You don’t have to actually be happy to reap the benefits. People in the study weren’t necessarily in a good mood – they just faked a smile. So skip flipping off the guy who’s driving like a jerk, and force a grin instead. Even though you may feel awkward, it’s an easy way to calm your mind, and perhaps more importantly, your heart.
As far as fake smiling goes, what do you think? Is it worth the potential health benefit? Does it make you feel more relaxed and stress-free? Leave your comments below.
Get in touch with Gallen Insurance benefits consultant Mike Fields  to find out more tips on staying healthy and how to save money on your health insurance. Email him at mfields@galleninsurance.com or give him a call at 610-898-6532.

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