Smile Your Stress Away

Peter Fisher

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Many people today mistakenly believe that stress is something that inevitably happens to them. They believe it is the result of outside situations which are beyond their control. We get stressed if our work is very demanding. We get stressed if people don't do what we want them to do. We become stressed when we feel we need a holiday. We get stressed over deaths, marriages, major decisions and domestic issues. We talk as if stress is something happening to us as a condition of events in our external environment. I'm going to tell you now it's not.

Those same people also believe that it can't be avoided; that it's part of our being in the world we live in. With Health & Safety Regulations, organizations do have a responsibility to minimise levels of stress in their workforce but we have a responsibility for ourselves.

It's very important to minimise your levels of stress and you can do that by thinking rather than reacting. Don't just replay the tapes when something happens and stop saying: “That makes me so angry" or “I hate it when that happens. "

What you should start is taking a breath and deciding: what is a reasonable response to this situation? Knowing full well that you have the choice. And you DO have the choice because it is not the event that causes the stress, but the way you react to the event; so you can choose to react differently.

Reading this now you're probably thinking: “That's all very well for you to say, but its hard sometimes not to get stressed. " You're absolutely right of course, however let me give you some reasons why you need to work at reducing it.

Stress is known to cause heart disease, sleeplessness, *** problems, overeating, drinking too much, loss of concentration, stomach upsets and ulcers. Research is also telling us that many of our illnesses are stress-related.

When we get stressed a chemical is released into our bloodstream called Cortisol, sometimes known as the Stress Hormone. Whilst Cortisol is important in proper body functioning, high levels of Cortisol can lead to diabetes and skin problems. There is also a suggestion that Cortisol attacks our immune system and leaves us vulnerable to many of the bugs and viruses that come along. Doctors increasingly think this also includes many forms of cancer.

So lets get this straight, you have stress and you want to get rid of it. To do that you must rest! Sounds simple enough, but many of us find it hard with life's pressures to even stop and relax for a few minutes. Guilt somehow kicks in; shouldn't I be doing something?

Stop right there! Go outside - take a garden chair, a hammock or a lounger and relax. To enjoy your life and feel good again you must slow down; you could read a book, or just sit and relax in the warm sunshine. Doesn't that feel good? Now that you are feeling little less stressed and perhaps a little better, what else can you do to keep reducing your stress levels?

Did you know that smiling requires less effort than frowning? Did you also know that smiling can actually make you feel happier?

Research has shown that the muscles in our faces that allow us to smile actually stimulate our brain and when this part of the brain is stimulated, it makes us feel happy. So, even if you feel sad, irritated, angry or frustrated, just by smiling, it will make you feel better. Apart from the benefit to ourselves of smiling, smiling at others can make them feel happier too.

So although it would feel strange to start, wouldn't it be worth it if we could train ourselves to smile instead of frown? We'd end up with lots of other faces smiling back completing the ‘smiling circle’. Think how much lower your stress level would be if everybody smiled at you in the morning rather than the sullen, glum faces we're so often met with.

Need some positive thinking? Visit Your Motivation

Peter Fisher is an Counsellor and Career Coach, an expert Author and Publisher. He coaches and writes for people undergoing career change. Everything from deciding what you want to do and how to do it, by way of personal presentation to interview questions and answers are covered on the main website at For more stress reduction resources and strategies visit his consulting site at


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