With South Africans on level four lockdown, the rules for essential workers and shoppers have loosened a bit, but the social restrictions are still in full effect. This means that social distancing will continue to be the norm for a while longer, with most of us going through our days with little to no human interaction.
More and more people are jumping on platforms like Zoom to stay connected or reaching out to fellow humans on social media. Others are just looking for interesting ways to keep in touch and stay sane during these unprecedented times. But humans are social creatures and for some, adjusting to this new virtual life can be a struggle.
Experts warn that prolonged isolation during the pandemic may negatively affect our mental health and that losing everyday social connections come with psychological costs. As such, a small gesture like a simple smile can not only improve our own wellbeing but help others as well.
“If you think about it, a smile is one of the few weapons we still have in a digital landscape as we can’t have any up-close and personal interactions these days,” says Ashleigh Sanderson, Senior Brand Manager for Orbit Gum. “Not only it is important to use what we have to shine during these difficult times, but a simple smile can brighten up someone else’s day. Not to mention, it’s completely free. With the challenge of having to wear masks in public, that can’t stop us from spreading the joy online.”
The power of the smile
While many consider smiling to be an involuntary response to feelings of joy and happiness, it can also be a conscious and powerful communication tool. Many scientists have researched the power of the smile – it is considered attractive to others; it helps elevate our mood and the mood of those around us and is linked to longevity and overall improved health and wellbeing.
And smiling is contagious too – it can instantly brighten someone’s day and bring out the best feelings in those around us. It is a symbol of purpose and vitality, creates trust between people and builds friendships. Smiling at someone has also been known to evoke feelings of safety, value and acceptance in the recipient.
Sanderson adds, “Studies have even shown that smiling contributes to higher productivity as adding a smiley face to an email or instant message to a colleague can improve happiness, confidence, decision-making and problem-solving abilities. Think about this the next time you send an email.”
Spread the joy
Since spreading joy is as easy as a genuine smile, there are quick and easy ways you can shine your light during these dark times.
- If there’s someone you know has been down lately, a small gesture of acknowledgement along with kind words and a smile can work wonders. Set up a video call and flex those smile muscles.
- Fancy yourself a comedian? Sometimes sharing a joke or two can instantly improve someone’s mood and brighten their day.
- Start all conversations and meetings with a smile, whether over a video call, text, instant message or email.
- Bring smiles to other people’s faces with a random act of kindness. It will make you feel better as well.
- Freshen up before video calls. Chew a piece of Orbit gum and add a splash of colour to your face with some lipstick. Feeling good yourself can help spread those feelings to others as well.
Sanderson concludes, “As Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, and sometimes your smile is the source of your joy.”