What Are You Smiling About?
What are You Smiling About? Here is an easy add-on that costs nothing and can enhance any self-regulation tool you are using whether it’s affirmations, visualization, or breathing for stress control. A gentle smile.
Psychology pioneer William James (1842-1910) championed the notion that if you change your physiology, you can intentionally alter your mood. For example: a person who lacks self-confidence will unconsciously assume a slumped over posture that mirrors their inner insecurity. Yet a more confident individual will most likely stand or sit more upright and tend to look up. While not a cure-all, the person in the first example might benefit from intentionally altering her posture to a more empowered one.
Intentionally smiling is a very easy strategy to implement. And it doesn’t have to be an exaggerated one. It can be a more subtle Mona Lisa-type smile (an added bonus is that people will wonder what you are up to!)
If you visualizing speaking comfortably before a large group when the thought of that has scared you up until now, put on a gentle smile and notice if that makes a difference. It may very well help and certainly cannot hurt. The intentional smile can also help if you are repeating affirmations as it creates a bond between the content of the suggestions and feeling good.
Regularly practicing deep breathing with slow exhalations* is a great way to mitigate unhealthy stress. Put a smile on as well and you are sending a signal to your deeper intelligence that you are safe and secure in the present moment. Now that is something to smile about!
*Breath in and out through the nose if you can handle it. That type of breathing increases the natural production of nitric oxide in your body, a substance which helps your blood vessels to relax.