According to the newspapers, today is Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year. So, to brighten up your day, NHS Change Day is sharing a smile with you, and we are asking you to pass it on and share a smile today. Smiling is evolutionary contagious, so through our smiles, we can promote smiles in others.
For NHS Change Days many people have pledged to smile, to greet patients with a smile, and to try to work positively and supportively.For example, Petra Howard's action this year is to create a positive atmosphere in the team she supports. Besides supporting the team where she can, she is sending an e-mail at the beginning of the day with a positive quote. She says it's "perhaps not 100% relevant to the work we do, but always positive."
Smiling is such an easy action that anyone can make, but it can have real benefits for staff, patients and colleagues. Patients, who may be overwhelmed and fearful in an unusual environment, can feel more relaxed and reassured when greeted with a smile. A smile can make us more approachable, which helps to break down barriers between patients and staff, and allow better communication.
There are many times when we don’t feel like smiling, when we are stressed and tired and overwhelmed; but a smile can benefit us, and help us to cope. Smiling can help reduce the level of stress hormones, such as cortisol, and help increase feel good hormones. A recent study found that one smile, has the same feel good effect as 2,000 bars of chocolate (although after 2,000 bars of chocolate I’m not sure that I’d feel that great!).
To learn more about smiling, watch Ron Gutman’s TED talk about the hidden power of smiling or Li Ding’s Science of Smiling talk.
If your action this year is to smile more, then tell us about it at changeday.nhs.uk/tell-us-your-action.
And if you’d like to be featured in the NHS Change Day smile, then tweet a photo to @NHSchangeday.