In the last few days I’ve discovered the minute muscles in my face. Particularly, the ones below my eyes. I’ve found that consciously “working” with these muscles can help diminish the symptoms of anxiety when a situation arises. Let me explain what I mean…
Whenever I’m in a social situation, I observe where my facial muscles tend to drive themselves in the midst of anxiety. What I’ve begun doing is spending time alone massaging the facial muscles, and consciously driving them in the opposite direction. For example, I notice that when I encounter anxiety, my eyelids tend to tense UP and the muscles below my eyes tend to drop down. So in my time alone, I practice monologues and drive my facial muscles in the opposite direction…It has ironically done a tremendous amount for me. My theory is that our emotions and body really do partially follow what we are exerting on our face.
So, broken down, here are some steps:
1. Observe the muscular response in your face when you encounter anxiety; which way do the muscles tend to go, and how much? More importantly, what happens when you are in a situation where anxiety has subsided? I’ve found that observing muscular tension during a genuine smile really helps.
2. In your time alone, massage your facial muscles. Shake your face around and let everything go loose(a bit like a dog)
3. Spend time becoming consciously aware of where your facial muscles naturally lie.
4. Experiment with different emotions. It’s a bit like practicing acting (which is how I discovered this).
**Breathe out, and say “happy”. As you say happy, exert an expression of happiness based on a mental recall of the muscular positions in a genuine smile.
**Breathe out again, and say “happy”. This time, intensify the expression. You’re getting your muscles used to this expression.
**If you want to make a challenge, switch between the anxious smile and the genuine smile.
5. Relax for a bit and do it all over.
Ever tried to keep your “body” below your neck in an “angry” state while your face is happy? Try it. It’s very hard. That is because your facial expression partially dictates the expression of the rest of your body. Hence the reason something like this may be helpful.
I feel as if my conscious awareness of the mind-body connection is increased through these kinds of exercises, thus giving me the ability to control my emotional response in a situation.
Try it for yourself. I know it seems strange and minute, but it has led to a lot of improvement in the last few days.
I plan to write another post about this soon, because I’m sure it seems like such a preposterous thing to work on.