The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increased awareness of the importance of maintaining our general mental wellbeing, says Samantha Peters.

Something I really miss these days is smiling. I don’t mean I never smile. Rather, it’s the interaction I miss. I smile at you. You smile at me. Our mood lifts. It’s a language everyone understands. Masks inevitably mute the process.

Someone who knew the power of a smile was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. A journalist during the Spanish Civil War, one night he was captured by militia. Unable to produce identity papers, or speak the language, he believes it was bonding with his captors over a cigarette and a smile which eventually saved him. He called smiling a form of communication above all classes, parties and languages. Yet in the midst of this crisis, we have lost many such small daily gestures or acts of kindness which convey our common humanity.

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