"Smile though your heart is aching. Smile even though it's breaking." - Smile by Nat King Cole

A year after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in 2019, vaccine developers finally have good news as they reported promising results of the vaccines they are developing. Soon, the world may have the much-needed COVID-19 vaccines that the world is waiting for months.

But despite the good news, some are afraid to take the vaccines because they fear that they might have side-effects. Some, on the other hand, are just generally afraid of injections because they hurt. Others, due to past experiences, are now afraid of anything related to injections even if it is a vaccine or medicine.

According to experts, one way to feel less pain when being injected is by smiling. Psychology Today says that each time a person smiles, the feel-good hormones are activated in the brain which benefits overall health and happiness. But what does it have to do with getting vaccinated?

Smile 'Cause It'll Hurt Less

According to an article in WebMD, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, a genuine smile could be the key to have a less painful vaccination. 

The researchers suggest that a genuine smile can reduce the pain of a needle felt during vaccination by up to 40 percent and dull any injection-related physiological response by lowering the person's heart rate.

 Surprisingly, the creases around the eyes, called crow's feet, when a person is in pain or feels pleasure tends to be the same. When a person smiles or grimaces it creates creases around the face. While a poker face or a face without any reaction does not create any creases around the eyes.

Psychology professor and researcher Sarah Pressman said that humans make remarkably similar faces when in pain or pleasure which involves the muscles around the eyes.

"We found that these movements, as opposed to a neutral expression, are beneficial in reducing discomfort and stress," Pressman said in a university news release.

The researchers said that this information could be helpful to many people as the first part of COVID-19 vaccines are ready to roll out this winter. 

The study, published in the journal Emotion, had 231 people either express a genuine smile, a fake smile, a grimace, and a neutral face when they were given the shots. It demonstrates a simple, free, and clinically meaningful method of making vaccination less painful given the several anxiety- and pain-provoking situations in the medical practice of vaccination.

Read Also: COVID-19 Vaccine: How Will It Be Distributed Among Countries?

Magic Of a Smile

Psychology Today reported that a genuine smile releases neuropeptides that fight stress and facilitates the feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Plus, it also relaxes the whole body and lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. 

Furthermore, serotonin is an antidepressant while endorphins act as a natural pain killer. In that case, the study from the researchers of the University of California, Irvine makes sense given the benefits that a smile gives to the brain.

Read More: UK May Be the First Country to Authorize COVID-19 Vaccine

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