We may unknowingly hold tension in our muscles as a response to feelings such as stress, fear, or conflict. As a component of an unconscious stress-induced, low grade, but consistent fight or flight reaction, we may tense up muscles in the upper back, shoulders, neck, face, or jaw. A simple mindfulness meditation may help to decrease muscular tension and reduce experienced stress.
A systematic review of research on facial muscle exercises and mental health found an association between voluntary facial muscle exercise and some improvement in depressive symptoms and mood, while also showing reductions in levels of chronic stress. Focusing on the gentle rhythm of air that flows in and out of the nose and mouth is a mindfulness meditation technique that has demonstrated reductions in stress, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Bringing our attention to the muscles of the face, jaw, and shoulders through a simple mindfulness meditation practice can provide an avenue through which we relax and release some tension. The face is consistently active throughout the day as we deliver and receive messages--in some ways the face can be considered the center of our communication with the world outside of our body. A brief mindfulness meditation session, focused on relaxing the muscles of the face and upper body may provide a gateway into creating periods of rest and rejuvenation felt throughout the body. Mindfulness meditation is considered a type of brain training and becomes easier to execute with repetition. Please see my short, simple but powerful mindfulness meditation video to help you move down this path of stress reduction.