​​The science behind our smile: Why happiness is so vital at work

By Ellie Caley, Business Psychologist - Wellity Global

Scientists reveal that smiling elicits a happiness feedback loop in our brains. When we feel happy or content, chemical hormones called endorphins (happy hormones) and neural signals are transmitted to our facial muscles to form a smile. When these muscles contract, a signal is fired to the brain to stimulate our reward system that triggers further production of happy hormones. When we are happy, we smile, and when we smile, we feel happy. 

1. Smiling is healthy

Studies reveal that when we smile, our brain releases the chemicals serotonin and dopamine that act to relax our bodies and reduce physical pain as well as circulating neuropeptides that help combat stress. 

2. Smiling is contagious

Human beings are hard-wired to consciously and unconsciously mimic the facial expressions of others so science suggests that in having this instinct to mimic others expressions, we are able to empathise and understand other people’s feelings better. 

3. Smiling makes us feel good

Research suggests that the happiness level a smile can give our brains is estimated to be roughly equivalent to that of eating 2,000 bars of chocolate! 

Why are happiness and job satisfaction critical at work? 

Individuals who are unhappy and have low job satisfaction are more likely to experience negative emotions at work and have less energy or motivation to engage, therefore are likely to demonstrate poorer performance at work and increased instances of absenteeism, sickness and mental-health-related presenteeism (industry research). Unfortunately, over 60% of the working population are unhappy with their work, and according to Mind UK, work is the leading cause of stress and anxiety, with at least one in six employees reporting experiencing a mental health problem at any one time. It is therefore important that organisations strive to prioritise supporting their employees to create a more positive, encouraging and thriving working culture and environment. 

 

How to boost your satisfaction at work 

1. Surround yourself with positive co-workers

Being around negative people can really bring your mood down. Strive to create a positive working environment to increase everyone’s job satisfaction. 

2. Do something that you are good at every day

People who have a strong sense of purpose, who strive to excel and be successful and accomplish achievements regularly experience greater self-esteem and self-confidence. 

3. Eat light and nutritious alternatives at lunch

Sometimes eating a heavy lunch can make you feel tired and sluggish and de-motivated in the afternoon. Eating a light but nourishing lunch will help maintain your energy throughout the day. 

4. Develop a supportive relationship with your manager

A healthy, respectful, and supportive relationship with your boss encourages greater morale, productivity, greater success/goal achievement and improves happiness at work. 

5. Try to overcome procrastination

By procrastinating regularly, you can spend more time on making up excuses, blame and new resolutions than the time spent on the actual task. Over time, procrastination can lead to chronic stress, general distress, unhealthy habits, and low self-esteem. 

6. Take frequent small breaks

It is important to break up the strain of sitting all day. Taking regular walking breaks, doing desk exercises, or stretching can help reduce muscle tension and relieve any built-up aches or pains. It also allows your brain to have a break and can improve concentration. 

7. Celebrate the small wins

Breaking down your large to-do list into smaller more achievable tasks allows you to complete more jobs in the day and this sense of achievement helps boost confidence and motivation as well as overall personal development. 

At the Great British Workplace Wellbeing Awards we will be recognising the people and organisations who are helping to make a true difference to the lives of our nation's working population with award categories that include; 'Breaking the Silence Award,' 'Best Mental Health Initative,' and 'Most Inspiring Senior Leader of the Year Award.'  If you would like to enter click here.

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