Poor air quality is a growing problem for travelers headed abroad. Here’s how to read up before you go, and protect yourself once you’re there.
In the current moment, the Mediterranean diet and the Instant Pot dominate in conversations about food. Unlike some other wellness “trends,” these two stand the test of time. Pair them up for a match made in heaven. With an Instant Pot and the right ingredients, healthy and inventive dinners have never been easier.
The secret to mastering Mediterranean diet cooking is having a go-to protein, a crisper full of veggies, and an arsenal of anti-inflammatory spices. Once you’ve crossed off your shopping list, these Instant Pot Mediterranean diet recipes are the perfect way to get started.
7 delicious Instant Pot Mediterranean diet recipes you can make in a flash
It wouldn’t be a Mediterranean diet recipe roundup without salmon, right? This recipe is about as easy as weeknight dinners get. Besides water and salmon, all you need is ghee, a handful of spices, and three of your favorite vegetables. Five minutes of prep, 10 minutes in the Instant Pot, and dinner is served.
Inspired by cuisine from Morocco, this meal is flavor packed. Cumin, coriander, garlic, and za’atar (red pepper flakes) blend together to bring the heat while red peppers, roma tomatoes, and chickpeas round out the taste, giving balance. Served over a bed of couscous, this 15-minute meal might just make it into your regular healthy meal rotation.
Not only is this easy recipe Mediterranean diet-approved, it’s also Paleo and Whole30. It has all the warming spices you would expect from a classic chicken shawarma recipe, such as paprika, turmeric, cumin, but the wildcard ingredient you’ll love is cinnamon. Just a hint of sweetness adds complexity to the whole dish.
Give taco night a Mediterranean twist with feta cheese, olives, red onion, zucchini, and Italian dressing. The key to this recipe is allowing all the ingredients to simmer with the shredded chicken in the Instant Pot, allowing the meat really soak up the flavors.
If you’re into batch cooking and are looking to whip up something that will last you all week, this is it. Mixing healthy Greek staples like zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, feta cheese, and chicken with rice offers a nice alternative to salad for lunch when you really need to a change. Top it with tzatziki for creaminess.
Making cauli-rice in your Instant Pot—as opposed to on the stovetop—is a clutch cooking hack because it makes it super fluffy and light. Shrimp and chicken combine with spices like turmeric, oregano, and garlic. If you have leftovers, add it as a base to stews and soups throughout the week.
This hearty dish hits the spot. In addition to offering a substantial serving of vegetables, the inclusion of ghee provides richness and a good source of healthy fats.
There are so many things that can disrupt your sleep – from stress about work deadlines to the temperature of the room – but if you find yourself tossing and turning after a late night with friends or an indulgent meal at home, you may need to reevaluate your eating habits.
Eating too close to bedtime can be especially problematic if you’re prone to heartburn. “Laying horizontally after a meal can allow stomach acid to travel back up the esophagus, leading to a bitter taste in the mouth or burning in the chest,” Lauren Cadillac, a registered dietitian in New York City, told POPSUGAR. “In addition to spicy foods, acidic foods like tomatoes, tomato sauce, and citrus fruits may be problematic, and chocolate may also worsen reflux.”
Foods and beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and soda, should be avoided as well, she added. Caffeine blocks a chemical that helps make you sleepy, and it’s also a diuretic, which can cause you to make a trip to the bathroom during the night. Lauren recommends cutting yourself off from caffeine after lunchtime.
“Eating a large meal right before bedtime can also affect your ability to sleep,” Lauren said. “If your stomach feels overly full and you can feel the contents churning, this can cause discomfort and prevent you from falling asleep. A high-protein or high-fat meal is more difficult to digest and should be avoided before bed.”
If you find you’re still hungry in the late evening, Lauren suggests eating a carbohydrate-rich snack, such as a small cup of oatmeal or rice cake with peanut butter, which may increase the level of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan in the blood. When you’re mindful, food can actually help ease you into sleep instead of keeping you up.
Need tips for how to catch a cheater? Well, new research notes that literally looking right in front of you could be a better method than, say, snooping through DMs. That is, only if the person in question is a man.
For a recent study published in Royal Society Open Science, researchers asked 1516 heterosexual adults (592 men and 924 women) to gaze at pictures of well, other men and women and then judge whether the person in front of them appeared unfaithful. Both men and women were able to tell, with above-average accuracy, which men, but not women, had been unfaithful just by looking at them.
Is this just because dudes are trash? Or because they have god-awful poker faces? Something else? While the study posits that makeup may help women alter their appearances (and thus lie as convincingly as an under-oath politician), please eye roll with me at the idea that gals can pencil in their “suspicious” eyebrows in order to get away with cheating.
“Notice their eye movement when you ask them simple, basic questions like, ‘where were you?’ or ‘who were you just talking to on the phone?’ If they can’t make direct eye contact with you, they’re most likely lying or covering up something that they imagine will hurt you.” —sex therapist Tammy Nelson, PhD
“The one identifying trait of someone who cheats is this: They avoid eye contact,” Dr. Nelson says. “Cheating is based on dishonesty. When a partner is having an affair, they hide their behaviors. They lie about their outside relationships; they make up stories about where they are and where they’re going and what they’re up to when they’re not with you.”
So if your suspicions are ever aroused, you might want to start with an “innocuous” question…and then pay attention to your partner’s face. “Notice their eye movement when you ask them simple, basic questions like, ‘where were you?’ or ‘who were you just talking to on the phone?’” she says. “If they can’t make direct eye contact with you, they’re most likely lying or covering up something that they imagine will hurt you. Or they are unwilling to explore something that is happening—maybe they are conflict avoidant, or don’t want to discuss something with you on a deeper level.”
Still, it’s not advisable to jump to conclusions just because your partner won’t avert their eyes from the latest episode of Game of Thrones, or something. After all, when it comes to being in a relationship, trust is generally a good thing to have, so before you start setting fire to their things, first acknowledge that they’re simply looking elsewhere, and it might mean nothing of significance. Then communicate that you’re not into that kind of behavior.
“Be clear with them that you feel uncomfortable when they can’t look at you directly while you are speaking to them,” Dr. Nelson says. “If you’re clearly concerned, sit down and talk about your fears and worries that they might be having an affair. A direct conversation is always the best path to an open dialogue to find out more about the truth and about your partner’s commitment to your monogamy agreement.”
So when it comes to reading your partner’s body language, don’t neglect using, like, actual language to hear them out. And if that doesn’t work? Well, maybe it’s time to start asking about their DMs.
Compared to alcohol, which packs 7 calories per gram and is usually accompanied by sugar-laden mixers, marijuana is a diet-friendly, calorie-free way for folks to take the edge off. Plus, it’s been shown to reduce inflammation and ease soreness and pain. But as anyone who’s ever used marijuana will tell you, with toking up comes a ravenous desire to dive head-first into a bag of Cheetos, undoing the progress you’ve been making in the gym and kitchen. This phenomenon is known as the munchies…and it turns out that it’s total BS.
That’s right, stoners and stonettes—marijuana use alone doesn’t make you eat yourself up a waist size. In fact, according to new research from Michigan State University, people who smoke cannabis weigh less compared to those who don’t.
It wasn’t much, but when researchers looked at the body mass indexes of 33,000 participants, they found that pot smokers weighed an average of two pounds less than non-users. The research, which was based on data from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, also showed that cannabis users gained less weight than non-users in the long term.
“Over a three-year period, all participants showed a weight increase, but interestingly, those who used marijuana had less of an increase compared to those that never used,” said lead study author Omayma Alshaarawy, who was quoted by EurekAlert!. “Our study builds on mounting evidence that this opposite effect occurs.”
As for the cause of the difference, Alshaarawy isn’t really sure.
“It could be something that’s more behavioral like someone becoming more conscious of their food intake as they worry about the munchies after cannabis use and gaining weight,” she said. “Or it could be the cannabis use itself, which can modify how certain cells, or receptors, respond in the body and can ultimately affect weight gain. More research needs to be done.”
So, there you have it: Lighting up shouldn’t affect your weight (that is, unless you choose to indulge anyway). But that doesn’t mean we’re telling you it’s OK to spark up on the daily, and neither is Alshaarawy. “People shouldn’t consider it as a way to maintain or even lose weight,” she said. Plus, the jury’s still out on the ways Mary Jane will change you in the long term.
Fearing judgment of her interracial relationship and mixed-race child, a woman keeps both from her family. Until she doesn’t.
From a Starbucks copycat iced lemony pound loaf to gingerbread chocolate cake, you’ll want to get out your mixer and turn on the oven to bake these decadent, moist, and delicious cakes. Sure, they’re vegan, but no will will know! Whether you’re having a dinner party or it’s just a random Tuesday and you feel like eating cake, these recipes will not disappoint!
Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend continues a run of growth and momentum. The fitness industry’s showcase event has agreed to a presenting sponsorship with Wings of Strength, an Arizona based company devoted to providing opportunities for bodybuilders and physique athletes competing throughout the fitness industry. While specific terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, the deal is one of the largest sponsorship commitments in the 55 year history of the event.
Jake Wood, President of Wings of Strength, explains, “This is a landmark achievement for Wings of Strength. We started our company because of a genuine passion for bodybuilding, providing opportunities for female bodybuilders and anyone who shares our love for this incredible sport. Over the years we have grown in many different ways.” Wood continues, “The chance to be a part of bodybuilding’s most prestigious event and one of the world’s biggest media companies, is the next step in our evolution.”
Wings of Strength has expanded its industry-wide footprint by producing NPC and IFBB Professional League events in cities throughout the world, including the Rising Phoenix World Championship, the most prestigious title in the world of female bodybuilding.
Chief Olympia Officer Dan Solomon adds, “The commitment Wings of Strength has made to this year’s Olympia is historic. It’s a true demonstration of their overall dedication to bodybuilders and fitness athletes all over the world.”
As part of this deal, Wings of Strength will have a significant presence throughout Olympia Weekend. Keep an eye out for a series of feature stories in the pages of Muscle & Fitness Magazine spotlighting the remarkable growth of one of the fitness industry’s most unique companies.
For more information about Joe Weider’s Fitness & Performance Weekend, including tickets, please visit MrOlympia.com.
The woman was hospitalized after contracting the disease, and passengers on a flight from J.F.K. to Tel Aviv are told to watch for symptoms.
My weight-loss journey crept up on me, and so did the impact it had on my mental health. After I graduated from college, I started a new job. I had a new schedule and more time on my hands. All of a sudden, the hours which eluded me in college opened up and presented an opportunity to get to the gym. I made small goals for myself, and those goals turned into major changes to my lifestyle, my sleep schedule, and my physique. These are all great lifestyle alterations, but I had no idea I’d end up losing more than just weight in the process. It would take me months to gain back what I truly needed: peace of mind.
It would take me months to gain what I truly needed: peace of mind.
I felt pretty comfortable in my body for most of my life. I knew I could afford to lose a few pounds or get a little stronger, but those things didn’t keep me up at night. My fitness journey stemmed out of desire to try something new. It started with a few high-incline walks on the treadmill and a first attempt at Whole30. What can I say? I love a challenge.
As I changed my dietary habits and added a consistent workout routine, I saw the number on the scale drop. The results were unexpected, and my response to them was even more so. I kept up with the clean eating and increased the intensity of my workouts. Slowly, over the course of six months, I lost 30 pounds and the waistband on my “skinny” jeans loosened. I could lift heavier weights and complete more reps. I played coy as people fed my ego with positive comments about my physical appearance, and secretly internalized every word. And, yes, I took way too many selfies in the gym mirror.
I wish I could say I reached the ultimate level of self-love once I met my “goal weight,” but instead of feeling joy in my progress, I developed a superficial fear that I’d revert back to the way I looked before. I focused on maintaining my results so much that I cut off foods and activities which would normally bring me pleasure. I’d weigh myself almost daily, praising or cursing the scale if the number changed in either direction.
This behavior is just as unhealthy and disordered as it sounds. I got so caught up in my physical development, I forgot to nurture my mental wellness at the same time. Thanks to the help of my therapist and dear friends, I became aware of the slippery slope my “healthy living” had become. It wasn’t about what I was doing – those lifestyle alterations were nothing but positive. It was about how I treated myself as a result. I held a mirror up to my own choices and decided whether I wanted to build experiences around my body or build my body for experiences.
Six months after my fitness journey began, I hid my scale. Gradually, I gave myself permission to enjoy a little junk food again, just for the heck of it! I tried to let go of strict expectations of gym attendance and performance, and instead made a goal to be active every day. I started to write in my journal about the progress I could feel rather than see, and made a point to emphasize my efforts in strengthening my mental health as well. These steps forward are not perfect, and sometimes I feel like my brain is walking on its own high-incline treadmill. But much like the slow and steady progress of my outward appearance, I can feel my internal sense of self following suit.
This week on Well+Good, we’re launching Cook With Us, a new program designed to help you do just that. We believe that cooking is an important piece of the wellness puzzle and that everyone can make magic (or at least some avo toast) happen in the kitchen. Sometimes, you just need someone to show you where to start, and maybe a few others cheering you on. It doesn’t need to be complicated, or every day—like most things in the wellness world, a little goes a long way.
As someone whose job it is to write about wellness, I have a (somewhat) shameful confession to make: I hate meditating.
It’s not for a lack of trying; I’m well aware of how it can reduce anxiety and depression, as well as its other major benefits for your brain and overall well-being. But for some reason I just can’t get into it. Even in a sensory deprivation tank the other day, with literally zero distractions, I just floated from edge to edge of the chamber while thinking about what I was going to eat for lunch.
If you find yourself similarly stuck (i.e. you want the benefits of meditation without actually having to meditate), rest assured there is a solution: therapeutic cooking. Basically, it’s using the act of cooking for yourself as a mindful, meditative experience. And it’s a viable meditation alternative, says Harry Ritter, MD, the founder and CEO of Alma, a co-working space for therapists.
“Meditation as a concept is this idea of taking time out of your day, shutting everything down, and withdrawing into yourself for a period of time,” he says. There’s nothing wrong with that per se (again, meditation has so many proven benefits), but the traditional practice of sitting on a pillow, not doing anything, and just focusing on breathing is a tall order for some people. With therapeutic cooking, Dr. Ritter says you can use the act of cooking as another opportunity to create that space for yourself—no culinary degree required.
While any kind of cooking, baking, or creating in the kitchen will suffice, therapeutic cooking is not the same as your usual rush job putting together a smoothie in the morning. Dr. Ritter says that you should only be focusing on preparing food (following your recipe, etc.) without any outside distractions. You set aside time to do it like you set aside time to work out, he adds. This is not about working on the skill of cooking; it’s about using the existing skills you have in order to create space for yourself.
In a clinical sense, it’s unclear whether therapeutic cooking is as effective as meditation, since this concept has not exactly been widely studied. But promising research has shown cooking in general to have mental health benefits—a 2018 review of studies found that cooking interventions can help improve people’s mood and self-esteem, and potentially ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Want to see what therapeutic cooking looks like in action? Check out this sex writer’s self-care routine:
Dr. Ritter believes there are a few things at play that make therapeutic cooking work. First, you have to pay enough attention to the task at hand when you cook, which gives your brain a break from thinking about things like how stressed you are about work or if you’re going to run into your ex at the gym. “It’s an opportunity to distract your mind and focus it on something else,” Dr. Ritter explains. Cooking can also help you reconnect with the physical world. “We’re so digitally connected that we sometimes forget to be physically connected. And so the idea of working with your hands, creating with your hands, is actually really powerful,” he explains.
Therapeutic cooking also comes with a perk that sitting on a pillow with your eyes closed does not: you end up with a delicious snack. “You have the opportunity to work on something that has an output at the end of it,” Dr. Ritter says. “There’s something about being able to start something and finish it, and have something to show for it that I think is extremely powerful and really helps people connect and settle themselves,” he says. Traditional meditation absolutely has results (improved well-being, less stress, all that jazz), but if you’re the kind of person who needs a physical reward to feel like they’ve accomplished something, therapeutic cooking might be right up your alley.
Dr. Ritter says it doesn’t really matter if you practice therapeutic cooking in the morning or at night, just as long as you aren’t rushed in a way that makes cooking feel like a chore. “People should do it at a time when they can really engage in the activity and they’re not trying to multitask,” he says.
If you want to get started but aren’t super confident in your cooking skills, Dr. Ritter recommends making eggs in the morning. “It’s a really nice way to start your day,” he says. Sounds much better than my usual routine of scrolling through Instagram before rolling out of bed 10 minutes before I have to be at the gym, inevitably getting there late, and being forced by my trainer to do extra burpees as recompense.
Cook With Us is kicking off with a series of stories that’ll inspire you to sharpen your knives, plus introduce you to healthy recipes we’re sure will become weekday staples at your house (like this sweet potato gnocchi and these gluten-free chicken fingers). And stay tuned for the launch of our new digital community, a place for you to chat, learn, and share your favorite recipes with other wellness-minded home cooks. Think book club takes the kitchen.
Make a promise to start cooking tonight (maybe snag a copy of our cookbook) and meet us in the kitchen.
NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson has notched another impressive finish, but this time he wasn’t behind the wheel. As we reported in our profile on the racing legend, Johnson set a goal to train for and finish the Boston Marathon this year. On Monday, he swapped his No. 48 Chevy for a No. 4848 bib and finished the race with an official time of 3:09:07, beating the three-hour, ten-minute mark to qualify for next year’s marathon in his age group.
Johnson, the only driver to ever win five consecutive NASCAR Cup championships, held himself to an intense training regimen even as the racing season began in February. He ran up to 90 miles per week, often at Freedom Park near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. He ran Boston less than 36 hours after finishing the Toyota Owners 400 in Richmond, Virginia. As he points out in the video below, the track at Richmond is a demanding one, and it put a great deal of stress on his body—not an ideal way to prep for a marathon.
“The next two days are going to be the biggest physical challenges of my life,” Johnson said.
He flew up to Boston directly after the race to toe the line in Hopkinton. Thanks to his intense fitness regimen and plenty of Gatorade, he pulled off an impressive finish on Monday.
While this isn’t Johnson’s first race outside of NASCAR (he has completed five triathlons and an Ironman), it looks like he may have caught the running bug.
“It hurt, but it was worth every bit of it,” he said.
This. Is. Huge. J.Crew Factory always has a killer selection of stuff, but right now you can get 50 percent off everything at J.Crew Factory. You read that right: EVERYTHING. The sale includes recently added styles in the New Arrivals section, as well as suits, shirts, shoes, jeans, swim trunks, chinos, and accessories, too.
No matter if you’re trying to update your spring wardrobe, pick up the perfect pair of board shorts to last you through the summer, or just get your hands on some real steals, head to J.Crew Factory before this weekend is out. This sale only runs through midnight on Sunday, April 21, so regardless what you’re on the hunt for, the time to hunt is now. This big sale happens just twice a year, so why wait?
J.Crew gear is always done with an eye on style and sensibility. The quality is renowned, so you know if you pick up a pair of chinos or a dress shirt they’re going to last for years. And the staples are impossible to deny. Things like tee shirts, underwear, and socks are always on point, and always well-made. So right now is time to finally relegate that dingy old used-to-be-white tee to the rag bin and pick yourself up some brand-new gear.
And the suits! There’s an amazing selection of suits and jackets on sale, and they’re all 50 percent off. Wool, Pique Flex, Linen, Seersucker—you name it, it’s on sale. Planning a wedding? You can even get your groomsmen tuxedo’d up—but only if you strike now.
Check it out:
- Wool Suit Jackets = $134 (was $268)
- Flex Chino Suit Jackets = $84 (was $168)
- Unstructured Linen-Cotton Blazer = $89 (was $178)
- Linen Suit Jacket = $114 (was $228)
- Peak-lapel tuxedo jacket in wool = $149 (regularly $496)
And the list goes on. Oh, and did we mention that during this huge, twice-yearly sale, everything in J.Crew Factory’s Clearance section is another 50 percent off when you use the code FULLBASKET?
You just can’t afford not to check out J.Crew Factory this weekend. Regardless if you’re shopping for pants, shoes, shirts, or shorts; suits, ties, floral prints or solids, you can find it at J.Crew Factory. And it’s all half price.
Check out everything on sale at J.Crew Factory today. Sale ends April 23 at midnight.
For Devon Levesque, fitness is a family affair. His grandfather and father were both pro bodybuilders, his mother competed in physique, and he grew up with a 2,000-square-foot gym in his house. So the Performix House trainer and Don’t Be a Pig founder embraced designing a 30-day program to get you shredded. It’s all about ramping up your metabolism so you’re burning calories 24-7.
“I focus on creating muscle memory and going more in-depth,” Levesque explained. “Rather than a regular bear crawl, you’re pushing a plate in front of you, and instead of bicycles, you’re doing bicycle extensions.”
These HIIT circuits may be brief, but they’re challenging to complete with little rest and proper form. Levesque advises doing each twice a week or more, plus a mile run daily to keep those fires stoked—within reason. “You have to listen to your body,” he cautioned. “If you’re so sore you can’t move, then you need to recover. But if you can do six days, three of each workout, you’re going to get even better results.”
Try the workouts along with the following tips, and start shopping for boardshorts, because you’ll be beach-ready in a matter of weeks.[RELATED1]
Levesque’s Fat-burning Tips
“In the morning, before I do anything, I go to the fridge and I chug a glass of cold water. Sometimes I’ll add an ice cube to make it even colder. It wakes your whole body up and gets it going.”
Drop the Cop-Outs
“There’s just no excuse for not working out and sweating. There’s always a way, even if it’s doing a couple hundred pushups or situps. Something to get moving.”
Spice Things Up
“Hot and spicy food is always good for your metabolism as well. I put hot sauce on a lot of things. Frank’s RedHot is good. You’ve gotta watch out, because some hot sauces rack up the sodium, and that just bloats you. So find a low-sodium sauce.”
Most Your Brew
Add a tablespoon of cinnamon to your coffee. That will get your metabolism going.[RELATED2]
Levesque’s Two-Part Body Burn
Do each move with the same number of sets as a circuit, going through each one after the other. Then finish the workout.
Assault Bike Sprint
- Sets: 4
- Reps/Time/Dst.: 20 cal.
Bear Crawl Plate Push
- Sets: 4
- Reps/Time/DST.: 20 yards per hand
- Sets: 4
- Reps/Time/DST: 15
- Sets: 2 min.
- Reps/Time/DST.: 10X every 20 sec.
- Sets: 1
- Reps/Time/DST.: .5 mile
Full-incline Treadmill Sprint
- Sets: 4
- Reps/Time/DST.: 8 x 10 sec.
TRX Band Squat
- Sets: 4
- Reps/Time/DST.: 20
- Sets: 4
- Reps/Time/DST.: 15
Rapid-Fire 20-inch Box Jump
- Sets: 4
- Reps/Time/DST.: 30 sec.
Boston Scientific and Coloplast were the last two companies selling the medical devices, which have resulted in nearly $8 billion in settlements.
Ever heard that sage advice to “smile through the pain?” It offers the ethos of other similar platitudes like “put your big girl pants on” or “get back on the horse,” but apparently, when it comes to—wait for it—grinning and bearing it, there’s some science to support the trite saying.
A recent paper published in Psychological Bulletin suggests that smiling, even if you’re faking it, will gift you a marginal, momentary mood boost. The meta-analysis of 138 studies on more than 11,000 people worldwide about facial expression and whether it influences emotions supports the notion that smiling makes people a smidge happier, while scowling and frowning makes them angrier and sadder, respectively. But, when perusing online reactions to this new finding, I saw an abundance of “Smiling is the Way to Happiness” headlines—which crystallized just one thought in my mind: Please don’t make me smile.
I hate being told to smile. Anyone who’s ever fielded a catcall on their way to work (AKA a woman who breathes air) probably also hates being told to smile. We should feel how we want to feel, and internalizing emotions to turn a frown upside down tends to manifest destructive external effects. Need proof? A recent and unrelated buzzy study suggests faking a perma-smile while working in the service industry lead to boozing hard later on.
Studies and their conclusions about positive micro-effects aside, I want to know if there’s really ever a time when a fake smile is a good plan or like, nah. And according to Helene Brenner, PhD, licensed psychologist and author of I Know I’m in There Somewhere: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner Voice and Living a Life of Authenticity, the issue isn’t black and white—but being constantly joker-faced can be isolating.
“The biggest problem with fake-smiling is that it keeps people distant. They create a false sense of closeness with lots of people, but may never feel close or trusting with anyone.”—licensed psychologist Helene Brenner, PhD
“The biggest problem with fake-smiling is that it keeps people distant,” Dr. Brenner says. “Politicians do it all the time, and so do people who are good at other kinds of ‘politics,’ like office politics. They can get people to like them, but nobody ever knows who they really are or what they really think. They create a false sense of closeness with lots of people, but may never feel close or trusting with anyone.”
And it’s not just other people’s perception of you and how authentic you are (or aren’t) that’s at risk with a fake smiling habit. You might also lose a sense of self. “Other people smile almost all of the time because they’ve discovered that people—including possible romantic partners—are attracted to them when they smile, but eventually they begin to question whether anyone will like their true self,” Dr. Brenner adds.
Still, there’s one scenario when a faux grin may be helpful: When you want to make a good first impression. “The best time to make an effort to smile is when you’re with unfamiliar people that you want to meet or get to know, because it makes it more likely they will smile at you,” Dr. Brenner says. “And having people smile at you makes the world feel friendlier and safer, which is definitely a mood-booster.”
That said, the worst thing you can do is fake a smile when you’re feeling profoundly sad, as it’ll only amplify your loneliness, she says. So when you’re feeling low, there are two great ways to gas yourself up: 1. Acknowledge the present, and support yourself the way you might a grieving friend. 2. Look back to the past to conjure a happy memory that’ll bring an authentic smile to your face. Then savor that feeling and smile—no faking necessary.
Need a little help? Learn to build a happy memory palace here. And if you’re feeling seriously exhausted and overwhelmed by maintaining a happy facade, this is what you should know about smiling depression.