Has it been stressful at work? Does anyone smiling any more? If not, it may wear you down. Do we smile because we’re happy or are happy because we smile? Will smiling help manage stress?

In a recent study, researchers found that smiling, even when it is forced, can ease stress and lower heart rates. During stressful tasks, researchers measured participants’ heart rates and self reported stress levels throughout the testing phase.

The results of the study report that participants who were instructed to smile, had lower heart rate levels after recovery from the stressful activities. Since heart rate is an indicator of the body’s stress response, it seems as though the act of smiling actually reduced the participants’ overall stress level.

These findings show that smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.

It is believed that smiling reduces levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone. So, feeling good can be a consequence of smiling, not just the other way around. When you are under stress, try to hold your face in a smile for a moment; it might actually help you manage stress.

Continue to smile, feel happy, and manage the stress, and maybe your coworkers will start smiling again.

When feeling stressed, try forcing a smile on your face. Sure, it will probably feel insincere or fake at first, but forcing yourself to look happier could actually end up helping you feel happier and less stressed.

If you and your coworkers are suffering from significant stress, contact me at kit@seminarsonstress.com and I will deliver a presentation packed with dozens of stress management strategies.

If you need to find a keynote speaker, plenary speaker, breakout speaker, concurrent session speaker, seminar leader, or workshop facilitator who can deliver in-person, virtually, or via prerecorded session, Kit Welchlin, M.A., CSP, CVP, is a nationally recognized professional motivational speaker and author and can be found at www.welchlin.com or www.SeminarsOnStress.com.