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Could a Smile Help Lower Your Blood Pressure?

By Sandy Schroeder

Questions about smiles and happiness are now showing up in health research, and the answers are positive. Smiles really may keep us healthier. You may be on the right track if you tend to be naturally upbeat.

"Positive attitudes may help us survive serious disease, avoid acute illness and live longer," according to Sarah Pressman, University of California Irvine professor of social ecology.

When we stay positive and cultivate happiness in our lives, we may also improve our immune and cardiovascular systems, according to Pressman.

How This Works on Stress

“Happiness is anti-stress,” according to Pressman. When you are under stress, blood pressure spikes, heart rates accelerate, and stress hormones increase blood sugar and weaken the immune system. Adrenaline soars and the body suffers. If this pattern continues unchecked, stress can kill you.

How to Reverse Stress

"When you smile and feel joy you have a physiological advantage over people who are angry, sad or depressed," Pressman says.

Positive people may have fewer colds, feel less pain and encounter less inflammation after surgery. They have less heart disease and fewer strokes. Often they live longer.

How to Make This Work for You

Another University of California professor tells us how to make it work for us. Sonja Lyubomirsky, UC Riverside, studies positive attitudes and happiness. She says,. "forty percent of our happiness is within our control, 50 percent is genetic, and 10 percent is life circumstance."

Here are her tips for using happiness to stay healthier.

Make kindness a habit – Helping a neighbor, reaching out to a depressed friend, or lending a hand In your community helps others and lifts you.

Work on relationships – Pick one that needs work and find ways to make it good again.

Relish what you do – Lose yourself in the things that make you happy. Enjoy art, music, woodworking, or cooking, whatever works for you.

Be smart as you cope – Find ways to work through challenges and siphon off stress.

Let go of anger – It’s easy to hang on to issues with others, but you will feel better when you forgive and forget.

Protect your body – Eat healthy, maintain a normal weight, and do regular checkups.

Stay active -  Be out there every day moving, walking or biking.

Laugh more – Learn to use humor to lighten the day with funny people, books or movies.

Pause a little – Try mindfulness meditation, tai chi or yoga. Step away from the daily commotion and just breathe.

Positive attitude research is sure to continue. Stay tuned and use it to your benefit whenever and wherever you can.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Huntington Beach, Calif.

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