• Sunday roast voted our favourite pleasurable pastime during pandemic
• A compliment makes us smile more than gifts or flowers
• We’re still smiling despite wearing face masks – and using our eyes to help us
It’s the simple things in life that are keeping us smiling in County Durham in increasingly challenging times, according to new research by Specsavers1, with the sound of the doorbell indicating a takeaway or other delivery most likely to bring a smile to our faces.
The Specsavers Smile Study has revealed that spending time with loved ones makes 79% of us in County Durham smile more than anything else and getting together for a traditional family Sunday roast was cited as our favourite thing to do throughout the pandemic2.
The study also revealed that receiving a smile – or a smize3 – from someone else is what makes people smile most at the moment4. And despite face masks currently concealing our smiles, 40% of us in County Durham still smile when wearing one, with more than half of respondents (68%) admitting that they are now expressing themselves more using their eyes because people can’t see their mouths.
Dr Carlos Crivelli, a leading psychologist and expert in the science of smiling at De Montfort University in Leicester, has reviewed the survey findings: “When you limit the opportunities to interact with others by imposing lockdowns and physical distancing restrictions, you can see the impact that it has on the usual tools that we use to interact.
“As part of this social interaction toolkit, smiles play an important role. Despite not being able to use smiles due to face masks, a positive outtake from these findings is that most people (80%) reported that they can rely on the upper part of the face to interact with others.
“The science of facial behaviour – why we smile and how we use smiles in social interaction – is fascinating. For example, we smile to bond or affiliate, when we would like to reward others, to reciprocate, or to keep the interaction going,” explains Dr Crivelli.
‘Specsavers’ Smile Study found that respondents from County Durham perceive people smiling to be more cooperative (81%), friendlier (97%) and more attractive (81%), and our confidence increases when people smile at us (70%).’
While smiling is infectious, other small acts of kindness go a long way. The research revealed money and time are not essential to make someone smile – we are more likely to offer compliments or praise (90%), rather than giving flowers (70%). 78% of us also admit that the most recent thing we have done to make someone else smile is to tell them that we love them.
When it comes to cheering ourselves up, in the absence of visiting friends or going to the pub, (81%) turn to eating or drinking something we like, followed by watching a comedy show (78%) and listening to music we like 69%.
Encouraging us to keep on smiling as times look set to become even tougher are father and son, Martin and Roman Kemp, known for cheering up the nation on their new Sunday Best TV show.
Former Spandau Ballet musician and actor, Martin, says: “Staying in touch and speaking with people who make you smile helps you focus on your happiness and theirs and we all need that right now.
“A smile is infectious and even though we’re all mostly hidden by masks at the moment, you get a rush from smiling that helps boost your spirits. And you can still see a smile in the eyes. They aren’t called the windows of the soul for nothing – they can reveal your feelings, your individuality and your personality.”
Reflecting the survey findings, Martin says there are certain things that are sure to bring a smile to his face: “There’s so much that makes me smile – good news especially when there’s so much bad news around, seeing other people smile and laugh – and the smell of good food!”
DJ and TV presenter, Roman, says: “For me, it’s watching Arsenal win and that’ll always put a big smile on my face! And I’m so lucky to do a job that means I have get to make people smile every morning. You can tell when someone is smiling when they call in, you really can hear it in their voice.
“Working with my dad is a blessing too. We have the same sense of humour and laugh at the same silly things, so being able to spend so much time together over the last few challenging months has been great.”
Martin agrees: “Yeah, Roman makes me smile and laugh all the time – sometimes for the wrong reasons!”
The survey was commissioned as part of Specsavers new Something to Smile About multi-channel campaign, which focuses on real people smiling with their eyes to the soundtrack of Michael Bublé singing When You’re Smiling, to celebrate the positivity and joy that a simple smile can bring when times are difficult.
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