Lots of people think to reduce stress cost money and sometimes lots of it going from one fad to another. People can get themselves into a lot of debt spending money on retail therapy for example trying to find happiness, in the process teaching themselves to associate happy feelings with material things, but we all know once the buzz of that new shirt or shiny new TV has worn off it’s back to feelings of blah and to top it off you have just given yourself the extra stress and anxiety of more debt on your credit card.
So what’s the answer to reducing stress? simple to SMILE!
Teaching yourself to smile in times of stress or anxiety can help in creating positive feelings and it will cost you nothing. We are all naturally drawn to people who smile yet most of us don’t do it ourselves.
We’ve all seen the smiley sunshine girl on TV commercials, she glows in a crowd when she smiles, she looks so joyous and in response her ‘happiness’ makes us feel good and we want to join in with the her feelings. We want whatever made her happy.
Happiness is infectious, that’s why a happy person is a powerful advertising image in getting you to part with your money, you want to feel as alive as the sunshine girl and that’s when the commercial takes over and tells you she’s happy because she bought our jeans, reinforcing the notion of materialism is the key to happiness, but it’s not that new pair of jeans we want, it’s her smile that we were drawn to.
In reality she’ll get bored with those jeans as fast as we all do and they will be thrown in the bin come next fall, but a smile is a good feeling you can have every day. A smile never gets old or falls out of fashion and it always looks good on you.
Quote: “What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.” by Joseph Addison.
Smiling is a productive therapy in making us happy, smiling has a direct line to the brain if you smile your brain translates that as you are happy and releases endorphins making you feel good by giving strong positive emotions. Our brain uses around 24% of our oxygen intake to function, studies have shown long-term smiling creates an additional 10% of oxygen and glucose into the bloodstream, this energizes, improves learning, and increases memory.
Smiling is simple enough to do, no one can say they don’t have enough time to smile in a day and it doesn’t cost the earth. Obviously if you have mental health issues like clinical depression then smile therapy might not be enough on its own and a professionals help should be sort. Smiling can make the world seem a sunnier place by kicking a bad day to the kerb.
Quote: “Before you put on a frown, make absolutely sure there are no smiles available.” by author Jim Begg.
The messages from your face to your brain runs in both directions, Psychologists call this “facial feedback” which translates as you can tell your brain your happy just by smiling and it will react in a positive way. There was a study done on two groups of people, both watched a cartoon. One set was free to smile while watching the film the other group was given a pencil to hold between their lips making it so they couldn’t smile. Both groups were asked to rate the cartoon. The group that were allowed to smile rated the film higher than the group who couldn’t smile.
If the pencil study tell us anything it’s smiling can make things look better and be more enjoyable.
A good time to practice smiling is when you first wake up. Lay in bed and smile to yourself before you get up. I wake myself up ever morning to fun and vibrant music that puts a smile on my face. One of my favourites is Shakira’s Whacker (this is Africa), which was a world cup Song in 2010, it puts a beat in my feet every morning and brings on a smile :-)
A genuine smile, one that lifts the whole face and creates a warm feeling is better than a fake smile, so smile from your toes to your head taking note of how it makes you feel as you do it. Smile while you read a book, cook a meal or drink a soda. Take pleasure in the moment and relax in the joy it brings, you don’t have to give the joker a run for his money with a smile that would scare small children, just a simple smile will do.
If you can’t manage a genuine smile or your out of practice :-) don’t worry stick on a false one, although a genuine smile is best, the action of smiling will help. It might take longer and a lot more work, but it’s still a smile.
Quote: “Life is a tragedy in close-up and a comedy in long-shot.” by Charlie Chaplin.
Try a smile trial for a minute. Relax your face and let a subtle ‘Mona Lisa’ smile spread from your eyes to your lips hold it for 30 seconds and relax into it, now frown and sense the emotional and energetic shift. I got this smile test from a meditation website but it’s unreal how fast your mood can switch and helps in showing that we do have power over our own perception of life.
Smiling helps me when I go out on my own, I find walking down the street really hard, I don’t like it, I hate being alone but I get through it by thinking of things that make me feel good which makes me smile and puts me in a good mood giving me confidence in the process, my posture lifts and I feel alive and all a glow, corny I know, but it works :-)
Try it yourself, go out on the high street and look at the people who pass you by, observe them for 10 minutes, how many of them are smiling? My guess not many. Now join the crowd, but smile as you walk down the street amongst them. Think about anything that makes you happy, the way your partner makes you feel or the football game last night, a butterfly, the taste of coffee, a fun moment with a friend or just how wonderful the day is. Think happy thoughts as you walk. I smile for me, nobody else, but if you’re brave enough you could try smiling at strangers and see how many smile back.
When you get back home see if it made any difference in your mood and out look.
So what does all of this mean? The next time you are down and are feeling blue or just plain old blah about your life – ‘SMILE’ and show the world how beautiful you are.