By Face Reflexology expert Ziggie Bergman
German research that shows that the part of the brain associated with our fight-or-flight stress response, the Amygdala, is stimulated by our own angry facial expressions. This is really important research for those offering reflexology on the face, as we relax facial muscles with our treatment, we must appreciate that we are impacting the way the body behaves on a physical level. For example, when we treat a stressed or angry client, it is possible to change the way the body functions by relaxing the facial tissue. There is also further scientific evidence to support facial massage significantly reducing anxiety and lifting mood by reducing psychological distress and activating the sympathetic nervous system”.
At the Rio Olympics, swimmer Michael Phelps was caught on camera growling angrily as he sat before his race. This was widely reported, earning the hashtag #PhelpsFace. He went on to win the race.
David Havas, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater, commented that #Phelpsface was particularly powerful because the expression of anger is associated with increased autonomic nervous system function, which “prepares our body for action” and is responsible for increasing our heart rate.
Positive facial expressions can help the body too. “Grin and Bear It”, published in Psychological Science, showed that smiling lowers physiological markers of stress and increases positive feelings. Four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington is known for smiling even far into nine-hour races. Her smiling impacts her body positively, helping to lessen the perception of pain.
The research, whether clinical, case studies or practical examples, proves that clients can genuinely benefit from a treatment such as Facial Reflexology and that some of these benefits such as helping to change facial expressions through relaxing facial muscles are unique to working on the face.
Ziggie Bergman is the AoR Excellence Award Winner for Innovation and teaches Bergman Method Facial Reflexology with the London School of Reflexology.
*Origionally published in the AoR Reflexions Magazine