Often when we are training or taking part in competitive sport we push ourselves to limits both mentally and physically and sometimes this means we can forget that we are meant to be enjoying that pushing of our boundaries as well.
So remember to smile!
Darwin, way back when, was not only interested in the biological sciences but also in psychology and published a paper called 'The expressions of emotions in man and animals'. Part of his thinking was that our facial expressions didn't only reflect our emotions but could also cause them!
So what is the science behind a smile...?
When we smile it sets off a whole set of messages to our brain that benefits our health and happiness. Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides which helps us fight stress. The neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit signals across neurons) of dopamine, endorphin and serotonin are all released in the right balance to help us feel good, relax and can lower our heart rate and blood pressure (now that sounds good for a sports person!)
And there's more...
Endorphins are a natural pain reliever and serotonin acts as an anti depressant - always useful when you're going through a tough part of training or competing.
So going back to Darwin's theory - we feel good and it makes us smile or we can smile and it helps us feel good - what a great short cut to give us a boost.
Smiling is contagious - you can make your day and someone else's just by smiling at them. Whether you choose to do this with your competitors is up to you!
So, when the going gets tough, the tough get smiling!