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Smile at stress ... it might just save your life

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
We all know that person who seems to be in a constant state of stress. Many of us have 72-hour work weeks filled with meetings, deadlines, equipment to repair and planes to get in the air. It can get overwhelming, but there is something you can do about it.

Smiling can reduce stress and has even been linked with lowering your heart rate, according to a new study by the University of Kansas.

There are going to be days when you just don't feel like smiling. Sometimes things aren't perfect at home or you are just tired from the long day spent preparing for the next long day. Maybe you don't like your co-workers and you feel like you have to pick up other's slack. We all have days like that but, as a supervisor of mine likes to say, that's when you have to "fake it 'till you make it."

Find reasons to smile. Maybe you can keep a picture of someone special to you in your pocket, and when things get tough you can pull it out and smile. If you are desperate to find a way to smile - look for a good joke, write it down and keep it with you so you can reference it when you're feeling a little stressed.

For those of you who work with people who seem generally unhappy or stressed out, a well-timed smile can change their day. Even if it doesn't, you still gain the benefits of smiles. So be a good wingman and share a smile.

As an Airman, smiling can positively impact at least two of the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness. The social pillar is supported by more positive interactions both on and off duty, and the physical pillar is supported by lowered stress and a potentially lower heart rate.

We all know there are going to be tough moments during your deployment, and there will be times you need help to work through those, but as a first response the next time you are facing stress, do yourself a favor and smile through it - it's good for you and the Air Force.