"Grin and Bear It"
Have you read the wealth of Spark articles about how smiling can make all the difference in the world in your handling of stress, and regulating your blood pressure? Even FAKING a smile, like by holding a pencil in your teeth which approximates the same muscle use as when you smile, will result in body responses that are both healthy and astonishing.
I've enjoyed them over and over, being of a naturally sunny disposition myself.
And today, ANOTHER article appeared, this time in the Spark medical articles, which delineates the same findings.
Smile! It Might Lower Your Stress Level, Study Shows
"Age-old adages, such as 'grin and bear it,' have suggested smiling to be not only an important nonverbal indicator of happiness but also wishfully promotes smiling as a panacea for life's stressful events," scientists observed, and then they, like good scientists, wanted to examine whether these adages had scientific merit; whether smiling could have real health-relevant benefits.
To do so, they had 169 university students engage in tasks known to induce stress, and they had to perform these tasks under three conditions: not smiling; being explicitly instructed to smile; and while holding chopsticks in their mouth in a way that forced the face to smile.
The researchers included the chopsticks condition because they wanted to gauge the effect of "genuine" smiling (which involves the muscles around the mouth and eyes), and so-called "standard" smiles, which involve only the muscles around the mouth -- the kind of smile induced by the chopsticks, using heart rate measurements and self-reported stress levels to assess how perturbed the participants were during the tasks.
The study found that participants who wore any kind of smile were less stressed during the tasks than those with neutral facial expressions, and stress levels dipped especially low for folks with "genuine" smiles.
According to the authors, this means that even forcing a smile during an unpleasant task or experience might actually lower your stress level, even if you're not feeling happy.
I love, Love, LOVE finding this out, and can just imagine myself entering a hostile business encounter with chopsticks clutched in my teeth, just to gain my competitive edge... I suspect that just the IMAGINING, even without the real chopsticks, could promote my genuine smiling, the most EFFECTIVE stress buster...
As Annie (the diminutive orphan) would say, "You're never fully dressed without a smile"