Photo courtesy of We Are the Rhoads/Trunk Archive
A Face-Massage Protocol to Ease Stress
There’s no magic pill for stress, but we found a five- to ten-minute routine that’s incredibly effective if—okay, when—you feel anxiety taking over. We tend to hold emotional stress in our face (particularly in the jaw and at the temples), and eventually the tension can create patterns, leading to pain and possibly even sagging skin, according to Heidi Frederick of New York–based FaceLove. Frederick, along with Facelove cofounder Rachel Lang, developed these brilliant stress-relieving exercises (and more—see Face-Massage Your Way to Sleep and A Face Massage for Headaches) exclusively for goop. If you’re in NYC, make an appointment (the treatments are heaven); if not, you can perform the techniques yourself.
“We designed these massages to ease tension in the mouth, jaw, and temples,” says Lang. “They also strengthen the supporting muscles of the jaw in order to absorb some of the pressure.”
“Stress manifests in the face first, and the spine and body follow, versus the other way around. A ‘dancer’s posture’—long, lean, and upright—lifts and defines the face posture instantly,” she says. By contrast, hunching over in reaction to stress or from ‘tech neck’ does the opposite. “The modern version of upper-body tension is caused by tilting our heads to look into our gadgets,” says Lang. “TMJ/TMD [temporal mandibular joint disorder] is a result of high stress penetrating the face, particularly the jaw, but it’s all connected.”
Take a long, warm shower, allowing the therapeutic pressure of the water to cascade over your neck, back, and shoulders. Try falling forward into “rag doll” yoga pose (it feels fantastic).
Post-shower, massage a muscle-relaxing cream into your neck and shoulders.
Wear comfortable clothing , let your hair loose, dim the lights, and play meditative music. Have a yoga mat, a hot towel, and a jade roller (or ice cubes) on hand.
Massage moisturizer onto the face with upward, outward circles using firm pressure.
Standing on your yoga mat, take a deep breath; swan-dive down to a forward fold. Hang in that position for thirty to sixty seconds—or longer if you can. We call this invertible skin care: It sends blood to the face muscles, helping to relieve tension.
Interlace your hands behind your back, and while you’re folded forward, bring the arms up behind you to open the shoulders and create space and length around the spine. Jut your chin forward as much as you can to simultaneously stretch the neck and jaw. Hold for thirty seconds. Repeat three times.
Lie down on the mat, interlace hands behind the head, and bring knees up and try to touch chin to knees, feeling the lower back, neck, shoulders, and base of the skull release. Hold for thirty seconds and repeat two to three times.
Gently lower both knees to the right side of the body, while shifting your whole torso and head to the left side so that your left cheek rests on the mat. With your right hand, using firm pressure, massage the area between your right cheek and jaw. Place your left thumb inside your mouth at the right cheek, massaging the inside of your mouth in circles, while the right hand pulls out and down on your ear. Switch sides and repeat.
Then, placing all ten fingers on either side of your face, press into the jaw. Slowly slide your fingers up toward the temples, pushing into the temporalis muscles (the muscle above the ears on either side of the face). Repeat five to ten times.
Bring your chin to chest, pressing your hands against your chin to create resistance. Hold for five long counts. Do the same move, this time with your mouth open. Do this three to five times.
With medium to firm pressure, press your fists in circular motions from the top of the cheekbones down toward the jaw.
Place your middle finger at the lower temple on each side of the face, just above the cheekbones (this is a pressure point), while placing thumbs into the jaw muscle. Hold for ten seconds.
Finish by inhaling deeply with a steamy towel covering your face. Pinch your brows through the towel; let the soothing steam seep in. When it’s no longer hot, remove the towel and glide the jade roller over your face to wake up your skin even more.
Related: How to Handle Stress