If you laugh and smile a lot in everyday life, you’re more likely to be able to deal with stress, say Swiss researchers.

Writing in the journal PLOS One, the University of Basel research team discovered frequent laughing could be an effective stress management tool.

They ran some experiments on 41 psychology students with an average age of just under 22, 33 of whom were women. In the tests, the volunteers had to answer questions eight times a day for 14 days. The researchers asked how often they laughed, and what they were laughing at. They also asked how hard they laughed and whether they were under any stress.

The results show that whenever the volunteers laughed a lot, they experienced only minor symptoms in response to stressful events. But it didn’t matter how hard they chuckled – even a slight grin had the same effect as a big belly laugh.

Experts elsewhere estimate that people typically laugh 18 times a day, mostly when they interact with others. You’re also more likely to smile more if you’re a woman than if you’re a man. There’s even some evidence to suggest people from some cultures smile more than others.

But whoever you are and where you come from, if you’re under a lot of pressure, cracking a great big grin may help you feel better (even if you don’t feel like smiling much).


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