If the result of a US study is accurate, stress management nowadays is just like cracking nuts after all.
Quoted hereunder is the gist of the study:
Smiling – even fake smiling – was shown to reduce stress in a new US study
If you’re stressed out, a new study finds that you can feel better with the simple act of smiling — even if the smile is forced.
Researchers at the University of Kansas in the US subjected college students to anxiety-inducing tasks and found that those who smiled through them appeared to have less stress.
Gone were the times when stress management was as complicated as stress itself. It used to be that “stress” was considered an illness even if it was just a state of the mind. And because it was an illness there’s got to be a curing process to be able to treat it. Doctors and psychologists used to prescribe elaborate cure which is usually called stress management. By management, it connotes some kind of balancing act, do’s and don’t’s to follow, and in some cases, depending on the gravity of the situation, some kind of rituals, routine exercise and mind conditioning are also prescribed. Sometimes too much preoccupation with “managing”, “conquering”, or “transforming” that are involved in the “stress management” process can paradoxically create more stress!
Now, considering all of the above, the smile-it-out-and-it’s-gone therapy makes everything so easy aside from the fact that it is time and money-saving alternative.
However, the best stress management, to me, is adaptive rather than pallative; not when you know you are under stress then you have to find time to smile. It’s not a case of allow it and cure it later. The better option is cure it and don’t let it in anymore.
How may we do this? Let me bring to you one that I consider most sustainable because of its practicality and it is attuned to any condition or situation that you might be into
I quote from Larry Cammarata, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist:
There is an ancient story from the Zen tradition about a young monk who was committed to seeking enlightenment. His master guided him to the edge of a meadow and said to him, “Walk deeper into the meadow and align your senses fully with your experience. What you first fully experience will be your door to enlightenment.” The young monk strode deeper into the meadow and came upon the sound of a gently flowing brook. He immediately experienced a sense of profound peace and unity; there was nothing to do, as he was enraptured by a state of pure Being. The monk ran back to his master, who was meditating at the edge of the meadow. Upon hearing the young disciple approach him, the master asked, “what did you experience?” The monk replied, “Just as you said…my deep experience of the sound of water from a flowing brook became the door to enlightenment.” The master responded, “and?” The young monk was pensive, and then asked his master, “What if I did not hear the sound of the flowing brook…what if I heard or saw nothing at all…what then would be the door to enlightenment?” The master simply replied, “That would be your doorway.”
There are many “doorways” to managing stress. “Stress management” has become a pop phrase that sometimes equates into applying a mechanical technique to something that is distressing to an individual. Without a doubt, there are many useful stress management methods, skills, and practices, including mindfulness meditation, cognitive restructuring, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, autogenic training, progressive muscular relaxation, cognitive defusion, assertive communication, yoga, tai chi, and qigong. While these can be extremely helpful to individuals in distress, I prefer to reframe the idea of stress management as a deeper reflection of what can be called “self-management”. Stress management is often about “doing”; self-management is more about “being”.
Smile, yes it helps, but in addition, be inspired by what you have to do and connect yourself very well to your environment. What you hear, feel and see are stressful when you feel that they are ‘disturbing’ you but when you give space to those occurrences because anyway they are meant to be, then it’s a different situation altogether.
Consider this: when a baby comes to you crying for whatever reason (or no reason at all), it is stressful when you think you were disturbed or distracted from what you are doing. But when you feel that this situation gives you the opportunity to hug and kiss the baby, again, I say it is a different situation and feeling altogether.
I simply mean that the way you react to certain situations in life can make or unmake stress. Dr. Cammarata rightfully pointed out that the best way to handle stress is to shift from ‘doing’ to ‘being’. In fact, he says that it’s time to embrace a paradigm shift from “stress management” to “self management” because the former is ‘doing’ while the latter is simply ‘being’ you in a very natural way.
When you know the difference, you can easily transform; when you know the transformation is natural, you can be it.