Your boss informs you (on Friday afternoon, of course) that you have to work on the weekend — again. Your mother calls to tell you that your least favourite cousin needs to stay with you for a few days on her way through town — and, oh yeah, she’s bringing her new boyfriend, a vegan. Your cat needs dental surgery: price tag $1,200.
Unless you’re a Zen master, it’s likely that the minor irritations that comprise every single day of your life increase the amount of tension in your body, especially in your jaw.
Cut the tension, says pop star Bif Naked in an article in the Globe and Mail, by learning to unclench.
A former jaw-clencher, the singer is an unclenching convert. “Unclenching the jaw has to be the fastest way to relax, to take a breath and to set the reset button. The number 1 thing we can do to live a more positive and stress-free day-to-day existence is to, well, unclench. Or simply, to relax the face,” she writes.
So how do you unclench a clenched jaw? It starts with noticing you’re doing it in the first place. (The singer only realized it during a yoga class after the teacher told her to relax her face.) Some signs you may be clenching include headache, dental pain and a feeling of tightness around the neck and face.
To unclench, open your mouth and “drop your lower jaw away from your upper jaw and let it hang like those heavy metal mouth-breather dudes from high school,” shares the pop singer, who used the technique to help her get through the stress of cancer treatment too.
Add some deep relaxing breaths and you’re on your way to chilltown.
The pop star’s advice applies to more than just jaw clenchers. You can apply the same kind of meditative attention to other areas of tension, from your shoulders to your fingers. If you stare at a computer screen all day you may be bringing some tension to your eyes and face too. An hourly reminder to relax these areas and to breathe deeply may not eradicate tension from your life but it will offer a means of reducing it from your body.