smile behind your mask

Why you should smile behind your mask

Behavior, ,

For nearly a year, our social interactions have been inhibited. We are more physically distant, and while masks allow us to get out more, they also diminish our social communication. The fabric hides a big part of our face, making it harder to see the intentions and emotions of others. Is that person coming towards us smiling and friendly? It is much harder to tell now.  

But still, a mask is a necessity if we want to get the COVID crisis under control. Even after a vaccine is approved—and until enough people are vaccinated—we need masks to help keep ourselves and our community healthy. Here are some thoughts about boosting social communication during this mask era.

Psychology of smiles

Plenty of research has been done on how smiling affects both the smiler and the person who sees a smile. The research shows that just the act of smiling itself—even if we are not in a good mood—makes us feel better.  Even for introverts, smiling and interacting with others increases happiness.

If we see that other people are smiling less, our mood tends to suffer as well. When we smile, we judge other people overall as happier. It is a big social feedback loop—when we smile at someone, they feel better and (hopefully) smile back, which increases our happiness, which we send back again. This happens so quickly that we are probably not aware of it. 

Oxytocin hormone

Looking into another person’s eyes and seeing a smile has even been shown to raise the level of the hormone oxytocin in our blood. Oxytocin is known as the “feel good” or “love hormone”. According to the University of Essex (UK) psychology professor Alex Sel, we should remind ourselves that if we smile, even with a mask on, we see others in a more positive way. During the pandemic, any positive feedback from others is welcome, and helps maintain our mental and physical health. 

The eyes become more important

Most natural smiles spark motion in the corners of the eyes as well as the mouth, and other people pick up on that. They know that a real smile lights up the whole face, if just for a flash. Since smiling research shows that smiling itself makes us happier, one way to keep our sanity during this pandemic is to smile, even when using a mask. We will feel better, others around us feel better, and the situation we are stuck in becomes a bit more tolerable. Smiles are little acts, but they add up. 

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

Better mask use will save 130,000 lives

COVID-19: how to prepare for a possible resurgence 

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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This post is related to the specialties Infectious Disease, Psychiatry. Below is a list of some doctors related to these specialties.