I still remember one early morning. Anxiety was rough. I was walking to my work that I had begun earlier and I was fighting all kinds of negative thoughts in my mind. 

I hated them. 

I wanted them to change

Luckily, a couple days prior, I had read about what I’m about to share with you and it changed my life!

What I learned was this:

Your emotions have a big impact on your body. When you are stressed, your body reacts in many ways. You may have headaches, muscle pain, or stomach issues. This is because stress affects three systems in your body: the nervous system, the endocrine system, and the immune system. 

This is called the Selye triad

The Selye triad was first proposed by a Hungarian-Canadian scientist named Hans Selye in the 1930s. He discovered that stress causes a series of physiological changes in the body, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. These changes prepare the body for the fight-or-flight response, which is useful in short-term emergencies, but harmful in long-term situations.


Your body can also affect your emotions 

There is a two-way connection between your body and your mind. The way you move, breathe, and hold yourself can change how you feel. This is called the bi-directional connection.

The bi-directional connection was first studied by a French neurologist named Guillaume Duchenne in the 1860s. 

He found that different facial expressions can trigger different emotions in the brain. He also identified the muscles that are involved in genuine and fake smiles. 

A genuine smile, also known as a Duchenne smile, involves the contraction of both the zygomaticus major muscle, which lifts the corners of the mouth, and the orbicularis oculi muscle, which raises the cheeks and forms crow’s feet around the eyes.

Smile to fight anxiety

One easy way to use this connection to your benefit is to smile. Smiling is not only a sign of happiness, but also a cause of it. 

When you smile, you activate the muscles in your face that send signals to your brain. 

These signals release chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which are known to reduce stress, improve mood, and lower blood pressure.

Your body chemicals

Endorphins are natural painkillers that also create a sense of euphoria. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, sleep, and memory. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls reward, motivation, and pleasure. 

These chemicals work together to create a positive feedback loop between your body and your mind.

So, even if you don’t feel like smiling…

Try it anyway

It may seem fake at first, but it will soon become natural. Practice smiling for several days and you will start seeing the results. You will feel more relaxed, confident, and positive. 

You will also look more attractive and friendly to others, which can boost your social life and self-esteem.

Smiling is a simple and powerful tool to fight off anxiety. It costs nothing and takes no time. All you need is to remember to do it. So, the next time you feel stressed or anxious, just smile. You will be surprised by how much better you feel. 😊

Sources: Hans Selye and the development of the stress concept. Special reference to gastroduodenal ulcerogenesis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9668601/

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