Smile for your smartphone: Snapping selfies can help boost your mood, a recent study from the University of California at Irvine found.
Researchers divided participants into three groups and instructed them to take one photo each day for three weeks.
The first group snapped smiling selfies, the second captured images that made them happy, and the third took photos that they thought would make someone else happy, which they then sent to that person.
The people in each group experienced boosts in their mood overall, but other specific benefits depended on what they were snapping. For instance, participants in the selfie group reported becoming more confident with themselves, and even believed their fake smiles lifted their moods.
Seeing yourself physically engage in a positive facial expression—like a smile—can decrease stress hormones like cortisol, so you start to actually feel happier and more relaxed, says study author Sanna Ali.
As for those who snapped photos of images that made them happy?
People in that group reported being better able to focus on the positive things they had going on in their lives, the study found. When you give yourself time to focus on the little things that make you happy, you can feel more reflective and appreciative of the good stuff, says Ali.
Your move, then, is to whip out your smartphone and snap a selfie or photo or two when you need a pick-me-up.
If you find a shot you think your buddy would enjoy, send it his way.
And if it’s just something that makes you smile, keep it in your camera roll so you can look at it again later on—revisiting the photo can help intensify the mood-boosting effects, says Ali.
Related: 7 Glorious Butt Selfies