Ever been told to “grin and bear it” during a rough time? According to a new study by researchers at the University of Kansas, that advice might be more than just an old cliché. In fact, the study says, smiling might just be good for your heart.

Scientists subjected 169 college students to stressful situations and discovered that those who smiled had lower heart rates. The reason? Researchers think that the facial muscles we use to smile send a message to the brain that it should be happy.

“It’s not just that our brains are happy and make us smile, it can also be the opposite: we feel the smile and become happy,” said Sarah Pressman, the lead researcher for the study. “If you’re happy, you perceive stress differently and feel less threatened.”

But according to Pressman, you don’t have to be happy to benefit from smiling. Even a fake grin can help.

“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment,” she said. “Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well.”

[NBC News]