“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” The Andy Williams song is one of the many holiday songs you will hear while shopping for your loved ones this season. The holiday season is a time full of mixed emotions, and “wonderful” may not be the adjective you would choose. According to the Andy Williams song, this season is full of things to do: parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, caroling, kids jingle-belling, and everyone telling you, “Be of good cheer.” It is an understatement to say the holiday season can be stressful.
So how can we regain and maintain some mental and emotional clarity, quickly, during this festive time? S.T.O.P. and smile!
Here are two quick hacks to lighten your day at work, home or while out and about.
First, stop what you are doing. Just stop for a moment and notice yourself, stopping the frantic thoughts running through your head. Next, take a breath. Take a breath and notice the air coming in, pause for a moment, then feel the air coming out. Then, observe. Notice what you see around you, in front of you. How do you feel? What does is smell like? Observe your surroundings. And last, proceed. Continue with what you were doing. You have reset your system and can move forward, hopefully feeling a little lighter. It’s an acronym that is easy to remember and takes the time of one breath to achieve. S.T.O.P. can be done anywhere at any time; the trick is actually noticing when you need to S.T.O.P.
First, lift your cheeks toward your eyes. Next, allow your mouth to form a half moon shape with the corners of your mouth pointing toward your eyes as well. Did you smile? (You are allowed to laugh and giggle even.) That’s it. It’s literally a simple smile.
Research by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman at the University of Kansas shows, “Smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.” While waiting in line or in traffic, smile and notice whether you feel a change within.
An added benefit when smiling is how others feel after seeing your smile. According to Allison Newell in Just Smile, “Smiling in a workplace environment can boost customer satisfaction; employees’ positive emotional displays increased customer willingness to return to the store and pass on positive recommendations to their friends.”
As you move on, shopping, working, planning and making sure all the items are marked off the to-do list, make this “The most wonderful time to S.T.O.P. and smile.”