It’s all in your head!
More specifically it’s in your face!
We all know that feeling of tension from a stressful day or situation, and the most noticeable place to be aware of it is usually the neck, shoulders and upper back. We feel the need to stretch these areas especially if we have been hunched over a computer or work station.
But have you ever noticed how much tension you hold in your face?
I know I do! I have become all too aware that at times where I am really focused or concerned about something I transfer all of my stress into my face, clenching my teeth, and to make matters worse I have become very aware that at the same time I forget to breathe properly!
We don’t always have or manage to find the time to do a full yoga practice, but maybe today you can take a minute (or even better – 5) to evaluate how much you are holding your emotions in the muscles of your face. Are you furrowing your brow? Are you squinting your eyes or wrinkling your nose? And the biggest one of all are you clenching your teeth?
The tension we hold in our face is often overlooked as we focus on the much bigger muscle groups of the neck and shoulders, but not addressing this leads to a huge amount of pent up stress!
I suffered for ages from pain down the right side of my neck and shoulder and no amount of stretching or massages could ever seem to give any sort of lasting relief – until I started to focus on the tension I was holding in my jaw.
So maybe you can try and take a little time for you every day and put aside 5 mins (or more if you have it) to try this little relaxation to help you to release some of the tension from your face.
Honestly it will make a huge difference!
Find a comfortable seat (maybe cross legged on a cushion or blanket) but try not to slouch. It might be helpful to find a particular piece of music that can run for the time you have available and this can act as a clock for you, so that you can switch off and not worry about how long you have to do the exercise.
Close your eyes and then gently close your mouth and focus on breathing gently and deeply through your nose. Make sure that your jaw muscles are relaxed by having a small gap between your teeth and maybe pressing your tongue into the roof of the mouth to prevent you from clenching your jaw.
As you settle, mentally scan your face and be aware of any tension you are holding in your forehead, eyes or cheeks.
Then start to gently press into the temples and rub little circles with your fingers, taking the circle one way then the other.
Then gently press along the bone at the bottom of the eye socket before pressing firmly but gently at the bottom outside corner of the nostrils, and then pressing with your thumbs along the underside of the cheekbones until you reach the muscle at the joint of the jaw. Pause here and gently massage the muscle with the index and middle finger for 1-2 minutes. Try not to let any tension creep into your shoulders while you do this.
At the end of the time just relax your arms and hands and take several deep slow breaths.
You can do this little exercise at any time of the day but it’s probably really lovely to do as you try to unwind before you head off to bed, or even sitting or lying comfortably in bed before you drop off to sleep. If nothing else then just taking a moment for yourself will let you tune in to what is really important.
Hopefully this can help you as much as it has helped me and is a lovely reminder that we can’t always get rid of the things in life that cause stress and anxiety, but we can take a little bit of time for ourselves to try and reduce the effects that these things have on us.
‘When everything around me is moving so fast, I stop and ask, “is it the world that’s busy,or is it my mind?” ‘ (from The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down – Haemin Sunim)