THINK TALK: The Better Stress Management Option  

MATALAM, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 28 February) – A physician once told me, “He who can manage stress better lives longer.” It makes sense. I am no health authority and so I take every physician’s word hook, line and sinker.

Stress seems to be everywhere: in the work place, market place and even at home. But what is STRESS? It is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. 

Most people ignore stress for the simple reason that they know nothing about it. And so, they live with it for a time. They take notice when something gets wrong with them, and more often, when it is quite late.

In a new U.S. study, SMILING, even fake or forced smiling, can significantly reduce stress. If you are stressed out, this study finds that you can feel better with the simple act of smiling.

Researchers at the University of Kansas subjected college students to anxiety-inducing tasks and found out 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 considered a serious illness even if it is just a state of the mind. And because it was an illness, some health authorities and psychologists used to prescribe elaborate curing process. Maybe YES when it is already a severe case.

A few years ago, doctors and psychologists used to prescribe elaborate curing process or routine which they call stress management. By “management” it connotes some kind of balancing act, “do’s and don’ts” to follow, and in some cases depending on the gravity of the case, mental conditioning activities like “yoga” and other mental calisthenics. But sometimes, too much pre-occupation with managing, conquering or transformation that are involved in the stress management process can paradoxically create more stress.

The best stress management, therefore, is “adaptive” rather than “pallative.” When you know you are under stress, then find time to smile or go out, commune with nature and/or engage in funny, light moments with your favorite friends. Just make sure it is not the “stress-eating” thing where you try to conquer stress by eating your favorite foods and consume as much as you can.

The smile-it-out-and-it’s-gone therapy makes it much more convenient aside from the fact that it is time and money-saving alternative.

But if you are not yet there, and as a matter of prevention, try to enjoy what you have to do every day, especially when you know no one else will do it.

For example, when a baby comes to you crying for some reason or no reason at all, it is stressful indeed when you think you are distracted or disturbed. But when you feel it is an opportunity to get a little respite from what you are doing and take time to enjoy with the baby for the little time he needs from you, and hug and kiss him again, then, it is a different soothing feeling altogether.

When you know the difference, you can easily transform. When you know the transformation is natural and effortless, you can be in it – nothing new, nothing stressful.

 So smile, even if it is fake or forced smile. It makes you feel better and drives the doctor away.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Maugan P. Mosaid holds a doctorate degree in rural development. He is a planning consultant and teaches Statistics and Methods of Research in the graduate school. He can be contacted at