Smiling in the face of fear, driving anxiety or even panic may seem absurd. But it can also do wonders for kicking that fear of driving, driving anxiety and panic attack to the curb and offering up an instant change of mood and mindset.
Before we get started, remember that smiling can work to reduce your driving anxiety and stress and increase your happiness whether that smile is:
- Genuine or not
- Outwardly expressed or not
Even a fake grin, or that polite expression known as the “Pan Am Smile,” can work to eradicate driving anxiety and stress while driving. And when you’re in situations where smiling would not be appropriate, such as being reprimanded at work or sitting through a class lecture on driving safety.
The internal smile is that warm, happy, cozy feeling that feels like a smile inside your soul – even if one on your face would get you fired or kicked out of class.
Tips for the Genuine and Internal Smile through Driving Anxiety Program
Review your reasons to be smiling. No matter how bleak something may appear, there’s usually at least one positive aspect in its midst. Look for that aspect. Writing up or making a mental gratitude list on a regular basis can also help.
Gratitude lists provide an instant “smile list” when the world gets you down. Be happy about each of your five senses, your ability to see the sunshine, feel the warmth, smell the freshly mowed lawn, hear the birds sing, taste chocolate. Review every aspect of your life and find at least one thing in each that makes you smile. Then smile about it.
Practice. Putting a smile on your face at key points throughout your day can be enjoyable enough to prompt more smiles to come.
Hang out with people who smile and laugh. Laughter is contagious, Psychology Today notes, and someone else’s laughter can easily trigger your own. Getting a positive posse of pals is always a good idea in general, as your outings and outlook can end up much more upbeat and uplifting then hanging out with those Negative Nellies.
Tips for the Polite Smile, or Acting ‘As If’ – Works on Driving Anxiety
Even if you feel you have nothing to smile about, you can exercise your smile power by perfecting the art of acting “as if.” As the name implies, acting as if involves acting a certain way in order to bring specific results.
- If you act like you’re a safe driver, you can actually become a safe driver – disappear your driving anxiety
- If you act like you enjoy classical music, you can actually come to enjoy classical music – no more driving anxiety
- If you act as if you’re happy, you can actually become happy
The concept of acting “as if” is the opposite of positive thinking, and both can be useful tools in your anxiety reducing toolbox. Positive thinking aims to help you think your way into desired action. Positive action, however, consists of acting your way into desired thinking.
Don’t believe it?
Well, you can always try it! And you can also check out a study out of Clark University noted by U.K.’s Guardian/Observer. The study, which took part in a lab setting, asked participants to make either a happy or angry facial expression. Results noted that when participants clenched their teeth in an angry expression they were angrier. And when they smiled in a happy expression they indeed felt happier.
“Subsequent research has shown that the same effect applies to almost all aspects of our everyday lives. By acting as if you are a certain type of person, you become that person,” said author and Observer article writer Richard Wiseman.
Thus if you want to be that person who smiles internally, an external smile may be a great start.
Tips for Creating the ‘Perfect’ Fake Smile
Since using a fake smile can easily make you look like a clown or, worse yet, a ghoul, you can take some tips from an instructional YouTube video. The video offers five tips for making a fake smile look real, which works great for taking photos (as well as avoiding the ghoulish look).
- Never say “cheese,” which pulls your mouth into an unattractive and very fake expression. Try instead saying words that end in the “uh” sound, such as mocha or polka.
- Laugh. Laughter automatically serves up a genuine smile, so think of something that strikes you as funny.
- Lift the tip of your tongue up behind your front teeth. This gives your lips a natural smile-ready position.
- Relax your face. The only parts of your face that are not relaxed during a genuine smile are the corners of your mouth and corners of your eyes.
- The final step is to put all of the other steps together.
So the next time you’re feeling anxious, fearful or stressed-out about your driving or any other situation, try putting a smile on your face. Even if the practice feels odd at the get-go, the more of a habit you begin to make it, the more relaxed and happier you may be. Just don’t say “cheese” for driving anxiety Program