Pause for a moment and notice if you are holding any tension in your face. A clenched jaw, pursed lips, squinted eyes, and/or furrowed eyebrows. They say eyes are the window to the soul, but our face is certainly the mirror of our mood. Without even knowing it, stress hormones in the body often tense up our facial muscles which end up sending a feedback loop back to our brains to reinforce our negative emotions.
There is a particular muscle on the lower middle part of our forehead called the corrugator supercilii, which pulls our eyebrows down and together, causing our forehead to furrow. It gets used to express displeasure, anger, worry and a host of other negative emotions. Interestingly though, our brain picks up when our corrugator supercilii is flexed and then signals back to our brain that something is amiss which serves to reinforce our bad mood further.
Studies examined this notion and found that people forced to furrow their brows indeed generated more negative emotion (such as sadness, anger, and disgust) and made them less happy, less agreeable, and less interested. Don’t be discouraged though, research shows that just like forcing ourselves to smile can help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, so too, actively relaxing our corrugator supercilii can assist in activating calm.
So whenever you remember, become aware of your facial muscles and actively release any tension you discover. Feel your mood lift within moments 🙂