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Being Forced to Smile at Work Leads to Heavier Drinking, Study Says

In news I could have told you when I entered the work force 23 years ago, a study out of Penn State and the University of Buffalo confirms what anybody who has to work with the public already knows: having a job that requires one to put on a forced smile leads to heavier drinking.

According to NBC KARE11:

[Researchers] found a link between those employees who regularly fake positive emotions, or suppress negative feelings, and heavier drinking after work.

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To gather their data, the researchers conducted phone interviews with 1,500 workers from across the U.S. and asked questions about their drinking habits and how often they engaged in “surface acting,” or faking positive emotions in the workplace. The results showed a higher tendency to engage in heavy drinking among public service employees who partook in frequent “surface acting” than those who did not work with the public or partake in frequent “surface acting.”

The most commonly impacted professionals include retail and food service workers, customer service representatives, health care professionals, and educators. Interestingly, the study found that individuals working in a profession with one-time encounters with customers, such as baristas and call center employees, were most likely to indulge in heavier drinking after work hours.

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Not to sound dramatic, but I feel this in my soul. As a teacher by day, I am required to be “on” every second I’m on the clock, plastering a smile on my face and projecting a positive attitude, even and especially when things aren’t so peachy keen personally, and IT IS EXHAUSTING.

No wonder by the time I get home, all I want to do is lock myself inside, pour a glass of vino, and grump it out in solitude for a couple hours, avoiding social interaction of any kind for the remainder of the day.

Pretending to be happy all the time has turned me into a monster, you guys.

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Alicia Grandey, professor of psychology at Penn State University, stated:

If you’re impulsive or constantly told how to do your job, it may be harder to rein in your emotions all day, and when you get home, you don’t have that self-control to stop after one drink.

The good news? Grandey also suggested that the impulse to drink heavier amounts after a long day of “surface acting” is reduced when employees find their jobs personally rewarding.

That’s a bonus for me. I do find my job personally rewarding, so I guess things could be worse?

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Experts are encouraging employers to reconsider the firm and often-touted policy of “service with a smile” in the interest of employee health. So maybe something more in line with the policies in place at the DMV, perhaps.

Those people must never touch a drop of liquor, if you know what I’m sayin’.