1. Section Editor(s): Palatnik, AnneMarie MSN, RN, APN-BC

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This summer, after coaching my sixth softball game in 2 days of 95 degree weather, the umpire came up to me and said, "win or lose, you never stopped smiling down the third base line at your girls. You always kept them relaxed, upbeat, and positive. It was a pleasure to umpire your games." It wasn't the first time that someone had told me that I always have a smile. But I never really gave much thought to the effect of a smile until the umpire's comments.

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I have, however, often thought that there are a lot of similarities between coaching my work team and coaching my 16-year-old softball girls. I help all of them realize their potential, encourage a good sense of teamwork, and keep them relaxed during game time. These simple things usually result in success both on the field and at work. But today I couldn't help but get caught up in the "the effect of a smile." Smiling is truly a universal sign that is known and accepted around the world.


I did a little research and didn't find much evidence-based literature on the effect of a smile. The information I found on smiling might not be evidence-based, but it's fun:


* Smiling uses 17 different muscles. Frowning uses 43 muscles.1


* On average, a woman smiles 62 times in a day; a man only smiles 8 times.1


* Smiling increases your life expectancy.1


* Smiling relieves pain and stress by releasing endorphins and serotonin.1


* Every time you smile you produce antibodies and T cells that boost your immune system.1


* Babies start smiling in their sleep as soon as they're born.2


* A smile can be recognized from 300 feet (91.44 m) away.2


* A smile is more attractive than makeup.


* Smiling lowers BP.1


* Smiling people appear more confident and are easier to approach.


* Smiling is contagious.2


* Smiling just feels good!



How many times have we heard the saying "laughter is the best medicine"? As nurses we know that there really is something to that. When we approach our patients with a smile, we're at ease and we naturally put them at ease. A smile shows that we're confident in the care that we're about to provide. It makes us approachable, so our patients find it easier to ask us questions. And when we get the opportunity to make our patients laugh, we can help fear, pain, and anxiety dissipate. That's quite an effect.


Until the next time, be healthy, be happy, be great advocates for your patients, and's contagious!


AnneMarie Palatnik, MSN, RN, APN-BC

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1. Katsipoutis S. Did you know it takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown? Here, 10 surprising truths about grinning. Completely You. [Context Link]


2. Pick the Brain. 15 fascinating facts about smiling. [Context Link]