Breathe and Smile to Decrease Stress

Taking slow deep breaths and Smiling are among the ways that are free and natural to cope stress. Chronic stress is one of the causes of hormonal imbalance, weight gain and other health conditions which should not be ignored.

In a recent study, researchers asked 169 volunteers from a university in the Midwest to hold one of two smiles—a traditional smile or a closed mouth smile—while they performed stressful activities. They also had some of the participants use chopsticks in their mouths to force a smile. During these activities, they monitored the participants’ heart rates. Researchers found that the participants with either the traditional or closed mouth smiles had lower recovery heart rates after stressful activities compared to those who didn’t smile. Even those who had a smile forced by chopsticks had lower recovery heart rates as well.

When a person is under stress, their breathing pattern changes, Deep breathing plugs into the autonomic nervous system and encourages it to relax, bringing about a range of health benefits. Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs. This style of breathing empties too much carbon dioxide out of the blood and upsets the body’s balance of gases.

The use of controlled breathing as a means of promoting relaxation can help manage a range of disorders, including:
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Some skin conditions, such as eczema
  • Stress
So take a deep breath and smile. The expression is not just a saying, it’s actually helpful!
Physiological changes can include:
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduced amounts of stress hormones
  • Reduced lactic acid build-up in muscle tissue
  • Balanced levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood
  • Improved immune system functioning
  • Increased physical energy
  • Feelings of calm and wellbeing.