Tag Archives: boost immunity

10 Health Benefits of Smiling

laughter-1120282-mDo you ever catch yourself scowling or frowning? When I am stressed, feeling overwhelmed or just in a bad mood, I notice that I tend to have a sour look on my face. I seem to spend a lot of time in a mood – and it most likely isn’t a good one.

We recently wrote a blog called the 9 Truths About Your Mood. While external factors may impact your mood, you have the power to control how you react to them. You can choose to have a positive attitude.

Even if you don’t feel like it, try smiling. You can smile for your health, to reduce stress and to look and feel better.

Here are 10 reasons to simply smile:

Lower your heart rate
Smiling slows down your heart rate and helps relax your body. That means your heart isn’t working as hard. Smiling also reduces your blood pressure temporarily.

Reduce stress and anxiety
Stress can show up on your face. You can usually tell when someone is upset or anxious. Stress relief may be as easy as smiling a little more throughout the day. You also look more relaxed and energized.

Release endorphins
Smiling releases endorphins that counteract and lower stress hormones. Endorphins can improve your mood. When you’re feeling down, put a smile on your face. Even if it’s not genuine at first, you can trick your body into helping change your mood.

Be more attractive
A smile makes you more attractive. You look friendly, personable and approachable. Someone is more likely to start a conversation with you if you’re smiling.

Make friends
If you want to make friends or attract the opposite sex, try a smile. Studies show that people are more willing to approach and talk to others who are smiling. A smile tells people you want to interact with them.

Strengthen your immune system
Smiling makes your immune system function better. Your immune system becomes stronger by making your body produce white blood cells that fight illness. You may be able to prevent colds and the flu by smiling.

Build confidence
If you’re feeling nervous or worried, put on a smile. You will appear more confident, and in turn, you will feel more confident. If you’re going to a meeting or appointment, people will perceive you as calm and collected and react to you differently when you smile.

Increase productivity
There may be some truth in the “whistle while you work” concept. Smiling has been shown to increase productivity while you’re performing a task. Having personal items that make you smile in your workspace may motivate you to work harder.

Look younger
When you smile, you use muscles that lift your face and help you appear younger. Studies show a smile can make you look three years younger on average. Smile your way through the day, and you’ll look younger while improving your mood.

Live longer
Smiling can extend past how you look on the outside. People who smile more may even live longer. Studies have shown that those who spend more time smiling may live up to 7 years longer. Smiling releases stress, improves your heart and boosts immunity – all of which keep you healthy longer.

So, make it a habit to smile throughout the day, even when you may not feel like it. You can improve your mood and your health. Plus, smiles are contagious – you can lift someone else’s spirits, too!

The truth about the common cold

Myths and truths about cold treatment and preventionI woke up a few days ago with a scratchy throat and drippy nose. I wondered if it was the beginning of a cold. Could I have done something to prevent it? Was there anything I could do to get over a cold quicker?

Find out the truth about preventing a cold:

Myth or Truth: Cold weather causes a cold
Myth. Cold weather or temperature changes don’t bring on a cold. It’s an old wives’ tale. Colds are caused by contracting a virus. There is some truth that you may be more likely to get a cold in the winter months. That’s because you spend more time shut up indoors, and it’s easier to share cold germs.

Myth or Truth: Wash your hands
Truth! Colds are most commonly spread by coming into contact with someone who is carrying the cold virus and then touching your eyes or nose. Washing your hands is the best way to get rid of cold germs before they can make you sick. Hand washing will also help keep you from spreading the virus to others once you’re already sick.

Myth or Truth: Take Vitamin C
There is some disagreement on the effectiveness of vitamin C. Some studies say it can prevent a cold and speed recovery. Other studies have shown that vitamin C doesn’t have any affect on prevention or treatment. Its anti-inflammatory properties may make you feel a little better when you’re sick.

Myth or Truth: Get more sleep
Truth. Getting enough sleep can help boost your immunity and reduce your risk of getting a cold. Extra sleep can also help you feel better when you’re in the midst of a cold.

Myth or Truth: Don’t go outside with a wet head
Myth. Going outside with wet hair won’t make you more prone to getting a cold. However, frozen hair is not necessarily the best look.

Myth or Truth: Stress can make you sick
Truth. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels are elevated. These higher levels can lower your immune system function. Take the time to relax and try to reduce stress.

Myth or Truth: Get a flu shot
Myth: The flu shot is for the flu, not colds. There are over 200 cold viruses that can make you sick, and the flu shot does not protect against these viruses.

Get the truth about treating a cold:

Myth or Truth: Have some chicken soup
Truth, possibly. There have been some studies that show Mom may be right about eating a bowl of chicken soup. Some of the substances found in traditional chicken soup may offer medicinal benefits. In addition, the hot vapors may alleviate a stuffy nose and the liquid keeps you hydrated.

Myth or Truth: Drink lots of fluids
Truth. It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re sick. It’s not as important what you drink, including water, fruit juice, and even tea and coffee. It all counts as fluids. It may be better to avoid alcohol while you’re sick, though.

Myth or Truth: Feed a cold, starve a fever
Myth. You should eat when you feel hungry. The important thing is to keep hydrated.

Myth or Truth: Honey helps a sore throat or cough
Truth. Honey is full of antioxidants and can help sooth your irritated mucous membranes. It can comfort a sore throat and help control the urge to cough. Honey may even beat over-the-counter cough suppressants in relieving symptoms.

Myth or Truth: Antibiotics help you treat a cold
Myth. Antibiotics fight bacteria not viruses – and colds are viruses. By taking antibiotics when you don’t need them, it can actually be harmful to your health.

Myth or Truth: Zinc shortens a cold
Truth. If you take zinc at the first sign of symptoms, you can cut your cold short. In fact, zinc may shorten the length of a cold by up to 40%.

It looks like I can help prevent a cold by washing my hands, getting plenty of sleep and trying to avoid stress. So far, my cold-like symptoms haven’t turned into a cold. But if I should come down with a cold, I plan to eat some chicken soup and drink a cup of honey tea.

Do you have any additional tips for preventing or treating a cold?

The power of positive thinking

positive thinkingYou’ve heard the sayings. Look on the bright side. Every cloud has a silver lining. The glass is half full. Positive thinking can be more powerful than you may realize. People who have an optimistic view of life tend to be healthier and have a greater overall well-being.

I know, one of your overly perky friends probably just popped into your head. We aren’t talking about fooling yourself into thinking everything is fine when it’s not. Or, having blind enthusiasm in any situation. Positive thinking means having the resources and the ability to stay positive even when things are hectic and aren’t going your way.

If you are serious about creating a more balanced life and improving your physical, mental and emotional health, now is the time to embrace positive thinking.

Here are some of the powerful benefits of positive thinking:

It’s good for your health
Being positive may help you live longer. Positive thinking can reduce your heart rate, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and lower your chances of having diabetes or cancer. In addition, pessimistic thinking is one of the factors in depression. Changing the way you think can improve your mood and help combat depression.

Boosts your immunity
Positive thinking can help you fight off common colds and other illnesses. Negative thinking may even reduce the effectiveness of your flu vaccine. People with positive attitudes also recover faster from surgery and cope better with serious diseases.

Helps you manage stress
When faced with stress, a positive thinker will cope with hardships better than a negative thinker. For instance, you just found out that you didn’t get the job or promotion you wanted. Rather than being frustrated and dwelling on the negative or things you cannot change, a positive thinker will device a plan of action to overcome the obstacle or will think of new opportunities to pursue.

Opens your mind
By practice positive thinking, you will start to see things in a different way. You are able to more easily shift your mindset and your focus to see the good and the bad side of a situation. If you are used to seeing the negative in any situation, you may miss seeing the good side no matter how obvious it might be. Positive thinking also helps you look for solutions rather than wasting energy on negative emotions.

Connects you with others
Who would you rather be around? The upbeat person who sees the good in a situation and is enthusiastic about whatever comes his or her way, or the Debbie Downer who complains about everything and doesn’t see the good in anything or anyone. People like to spend time with people who are genuinely happy and make others feel good, too. So, be positive and make friends!

Now you know that positive thinking can be beneficial to you in many ways. How do you know if you’re being negative? What can you do to change negative thinking into positive thinking? First, you need to recognize when negative thoughts are creeping in. Then, learn how to focus your thoughts to be more positive and optimistic.

How to recognize negative thinking:

Do you filter?
Are you magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out all of the positive? For instance, someone says, “You look great today.” Do you accept the compliment at face value, or do you analyze the remark negatively and think, “Does that mean I don’t look good most days?”

Do you personalize?
When something bad happens, do you automatically blame yourself? Let’s say you had plans to go out with friends and they cancelled. You then assume they changed their plans because they didn’t want to be around you.

Do you think the worst?
Do you automatically think the worst will happen? For example, you get in your car to go to work and your radio isn’t working. Do you assume that this is just going to be a bad day and everything will be a disaster?

Do you only see extremes?
Do you think of things as good or bad, and only black or white? You may think you have to be perfect, or you have failed. If you burn a batch of cookies, do you decide you are a terrible cook?

How can you overcome these types of negative thinking? With practice and a few tips, you can create a new habit of thinking positive.

Learn to focus on the positive:

Identify your problem areas
You may have certain areas of your life where you automatically go into negative mode. You may be feeling down about your job. You and your spouse may be in a rut of arguing and bickering. Start small by focusing on one area and approach it with positive thoughts.

Catch yourself
When you start to be a Negative Nelly, catch yourself and find a way to put a positive spin on the situation and your thoughts.

Get healthy
Practicing a healthy lifestyle can help you have a more positive outlook. Try to exercise at least three times a week. Fuel your mind and body with healthy foods to help boost your mood.

Hang out with positive people
Make sure the people you are around have a positive attitude. If you have a negative friend, he or she may want to bring your mood down with them. Supportive people with give you helpful advice and feedback.

Find reasons to smile or laugh, even when you’re having a difficult time. Try to find humor in a situation. Or just smile for no reason. You will be surprised how much better it will make you feel. And you might get a few smiles back!

I truly believe that being positive is rewarding in so many ways. I also think that sometimes things happen for a reason. What seems like a negative situation at the time can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Do you have any stories about the power of positive thinking?