Grin and bear it: That adage may have practical value, according to an analysis of 138 studies about how facial expressions can influence emotional states, published in Psychological Bulletin.
It found that smiles, frowns, scowls, and other expressions can both initiate the associated positive or negative emotions and amplify them, at least to a small extent. This so-called facial feedback effect doesn’t mean you can smile your way to happiness. But if, for example, you’re in a stressful situation, a full-on smile may reduce stress levels somewhat (though onlookers may wonder what you’re on!).
Interestingly, as some studies have shown, onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections, which temporarily paralyze muscles in the forehead to reduce wrinkles, can have positive effects on emotions, since the drug inhibits frowning muscles. Similarly, other research suggests that body position, postures, and gestures can also influence how a person feels.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see 4 Mood-Changing Poses.