Smile like you mean it

If you’ve never seen a valued member of your team banging their head repeatedly on their desk, count yourself lucky. But that doesn’t mean your organisation is immune to the effects of stress in the workplace.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

After all, stress is not only a danger to your office furniture – it’s also bad for productivity. Mental health charity Mind reckons one in five of us suffers from depression or anxiety because of work-related stress. As a result, some 40m working days are lost to stress-related illnesses every year in the UK, at a cost of more than £1.5bn.

One easy answer, says the International Stress Management Association, is to be more like Ewan McGregor. No, that doesn’t mean gallivanting off to another continent for a tedious motorbike-based travelogue, or butchering an Alec Guinness impression for huge sums of cash – it’s about replicating his jovial grin.

As part of a new campaign called Smile Stress Away, the ISMA has finally asked the burning question: who has Britain’s favourite celebrity smile? McGregor came top of the male list, closely followed by Ronan Keating and Donny Osmond (suggesting some methodological crossover with a ‘Most Punchable Celebrity’ survey carried out by MT this afternoon). Julia Roberts and Kylie Minogue were the (far more sensible) choices as top female smilers.

‘A smile may seem like a small thing, but it can actually have a positive effect on our mood by reducing stress hormones,’ says Kevin Dewhurst from FirstAssist, a healthcare provider which is turning its call centre into a stress helpline next Wednesday for the ISMA’s National Stress Awareness Day.

This is all very well, but it’s a lot easier for millionaire celebrities to swan around looking pleased with life. We’d like to see the look on Ronan Keating’s face if his boss dropped five hours of paperwork on his desk at 5pm and demanded it back by 9am the next morning.

On the other hand, if Donny Osmond can keep smiling even when he’s presenting his truly awful BBC game show Identity, perhaps there’s hope for all of us.

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