Smiling makes the vast majority of people feel healthier, less stressed and more pleased with their day — that is according to results from a survey conducted by San Francisco-based Dignity Health.
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One thousand fifty U.S. adults aged 18 and older completed the online survey in December. According to the results released by Dignity Health in January, about 89 percent of respondents said smiling has a direct impact on their physical or mental health; 84 percent said smiling makes them feel less stressed; 96 percent said seeing a smile has improved their day. More than half said smiling when they are sick has definitely or probably made them feel better.
Eighty-five percent of survey respondents who'd been hospitalized or who'd spent time in a hospital with a loved one said it was extremely or very important that caregivers smile at them.
Nearly 90 percent of respondents said the world would be a better place if more people smiled at strangers each day. The vast majority of respondents said they have smiled to get themselves through a tough situation. They reported smiling made them feel more productive, kinder and creative. And they found people who smiled at them more likable and memorable.
Stephanie Parmely is a behavioral health psychologist with Dignity Health's Mercy Medical Group in Folsom, Calif. She said scientific research has shown that when people see a smile, it activates a "rewards system" in the brain. Other research has revealed smiling can promote healing and can boost endorphins, which can improve people's mood.
Dignity released its smiling survey in conjunction with its fourth annual Great Kindness Challenge, which took place Jan. 22 to 29. Led by the nonprofit organization Kids for Peace, the challenge asks students and others to complete at least 50 acts of kindness in one week.
Dignity Health issues the same challenge to employees throughout its facilities. The health system has created a checklist of dozens of suggested acts of kindness, including complimenting someone, making someone laugh, treating someone to lunch, picking up trash, helping a neighbor and visiting someone who is lonely.
Dignity Health conducted the survey with the Qualtrics research and branding company.
» Watch Dignity Health's "The Ripple Effects of a Real Smile."
Copyright © 2017 by the Catholic Health Association
of the United States
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