Self-Massage For The Face

Tension in the TMJ, or jaw, area of the face is common in many of the clients that I treat in my career as a massage therapist. There are many reasons for this, ranging from a tendency to clench or grind the teeth, frequent singing or a lot of public speaking, or just general stress.

Jaw tension can cause headaches, ringing in the ears and even a runny nose, because the body is a wonderfully whacky thing. Right now, we’re all separated from our massage therapists… and believe me, your therapists miss you. I do. I also miss helping my clients.

Now, self-massage isn’t always effective. The act of reaching for the part of your body you want to massage more often than not activates the muscles you want to work on, which renders the exercise rather pointless. The face, however, can be worked on to an extent. You can do this without oil or lotion, but if you want to add that in, go with something that won’t clog your pores. I suggest coconut or jojoba oil, but if you work this into a face moisturizing regime, you could use your usual product.

  1. Start off light and general. That basically means that you should gently rub the entire face at first. If you’re using oil/lotion, this is a good time to get it evenly spread. Start at the forehead, above the eyes, and sweep out to the temples and then down over the cheeks, ending at the underside of the chin. Just be cautious around the eyes.
  2. Once you’ve done that for a minute or two, you can get more specific. Again, start at the forehead and work down, rather than starting at the chin and working up. You can use the edge of your forefingers or flat of the palm to stroke from above the nose towards the temple, then use your fingertips to rub in circles above the eyebrows.
  3. Come down to your temples. Again, rub in circles, and don’t be afraid to go up to the scalp. Your largest jaw muscle, the temporalis, goes that far. An easy way to find it is to clench and relax your jaw while you explore with your fingers, you should feel it moving. Just don’t massage while clenched.
  4. Time to pay attention to the cheekbones. Start in next to the nose and trace the underside of the cheekbone from the nose to ear. Repeat this several times at least, but you can do it for longer. Try not to dive right in with all your might, the pressure should be gradually increased, not suddenly.
  5. Next, come down over the cheeks. Again, start in near the nose, just beneath the cheek bones and stroke down towards the chin with the tips of your fingers. Come back up, this time a bit further out and do this again. Then again, until you’ve covered the whole cheek. You have more jaw muscles than you realize, and the major ones are in the cheeks, so don’t skip out on the inner part.
  6. Stroke over the mouth from the center of the lips and out, then do the same below.
  7. Stroke around your lower jawbone. This is the mandible, the moveable part of your jaw. Using the tips of your fingers, stroke from the center outwards, above the bone, over the curve of the jaw, and also under it. There are muscles down there that you don’t think about, the ones that move the tongue. All you singers and frequent talkers, this is an important one for you.
  8. You’re not done yet. Massage is like working out. Just as you warmed up with lighter, general strokes, you also have to cool down. Repeat the same light, general strokes you made at the start from the forehead, around to the temples, over the cheeks and down to the chin.

A few things that you should note:

  • do not massage to the point of pain. If what you are doing hurts, ease back to a lighter pressure.
  • Do not dive right into firmness, either, you need to build up to that.
  • If you have any cuts on your face, don’t do this. Wait until it heals.
  • If you have pre-existing medical conditions involving the face/jaw, consult your doctor before attempting this.
  • If you want to use a lotion or oil on your face that you’ve never used before, do a spot test first. Put a tiny amount on a tiny area of skin and wait for at least twelve hours to make sure that you don’t have a negative reaction. (And again, you can do this with no oil or lotion at all).

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. And once again, be kind to yourselves and those around you.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to I post blogs every Wednesday.

Self-care During Social Distancing

Right now, most of us are pretty stressed. Both the news and social media are full of worrying statistics and facts, not to mention equally stressful misinformation, and a lot of the things that might help us are out of reach.

However, it is still important to take care of ourselves. In fact, it’s more important than ever. I’m sure by now that you know about social distancing, but for anyone happening upon this in the future, social distancing is the suggestion that we keep six feet or two meters away from one another and limit our exposure to the general population as much as possible to help flatten the curve of COVID-19.

That may mean that some services and activities that you rely on for self-care are out of reach. But there are things you can still do, and here are some.

  1. Get out of the house.

No, really. So long as you are not showing symptoms and have not been exposed to those who are sick, social distancing doesn’t have to mean quarantine. You need to avoid large groups, yes, but you can take your family or just yourself out to the park for a nice walk, take a drive, or things of that nature. This may be slightly more difficult for those of us further north and still in the grip of winter, but if you can get out, you should.

  1. Stretch

You may not be able to get a massage right now. Your therapist may not currently be treating – I’m not – or you yourself may feel that it’s not a good idea. That, combined with added stress, is likely starting to build up some tension.

Try to work stretching into your daily routine. For maximum benefit, a stretch should be held for thirty seconds and repeated three times. If you’re not sure how to properly stretch a given muscle, there are many resources online.

  1. Meditate

To those of you who don’t meditate, it may sound hokey, but it really does make a difference. Try to find time every day for this. Find a quiet place, get yourself into a comfortable position and meditate.

Not sure how? Again, the web is your friend. There are apps for that. Apps such as Calm and Headspace have some good programs, even for beginners, and while those are paid services, both of them have free trials that you can try to get the basics down. Audible also has many, many, many audio programs for meditating, and in fact a few that are free for members. To find those, open the app, go to “Discover” and scroll down to the bottom.

  1. Yoga

You can even combine the benefits of the above two things with yoga, as it does incorporate stretching poses with a meditative state. No, you probably shouldn’t go to yoga classes right now, and likely couldn’t find any running, but try checking out youtube for some guided yoga sessions. Even if you’ve never done it before, you’ll find something. Granted, this is best done with a yoga mat, but you can be inventive with this.

  1. At-home spa day

Missing your monthly mani-pedi? There are so many things you can do at home. My personal favourite is the sugar scrub. I put a bit of sugar in a bowl, toss in some oil (I use coconut oil for this myself, which you can get at any grocery store and is always good to have around) and because I always have some, I toss in a drop or two of essential oil. You don’t need much oil, so start with just a bit and see if you need more. You can also use epson salt and just a tiny bit of water. You then have your own sugar scrub. Rub it vigorously ofer hands, feet, or anywhere else you want to exfoliate and rinse off. If so inclined, feel free to add some fun nail polish in, though that obviously isn’t a requirement.

You may not be able to get to a steam room or hot tub, but you can still do a relaxing bath. If you have epson salt, toss a handful of that in. A nifty trick I’m fond of is to put a few drops of essential oil onto my handful of salt before putting it in the tub. If you put oil directly into water, it beads on the surface, but if you let the salt absorb it first, it will dissolve through the water. You can actually also do this with a bit of milk, as the milk will absorb the oil but still mix with water.

There are many other at-home recipes for things like facial masks on the internet, and a lot of them use things you likely have in your kitchen.

You can even put on your streaming music service of choice in the background while doing these for that final little touch to make your home feel like a spa. All of these suggestions (well, not the nail polish perhaps) are good for both your body and mind.

  1. Just be kind

It sounds so simple, right? Now, of course you should try to be kind to those around you, especially if out in public, but what I’m talking about here is to be kind to yourself.

Perhaps you can’t work in the current climate. That can lead to all sorts of feelings. Anxiety over finances, guilt that you may be shirking your duties, loneliness. Or perhaps you have to work, and are experiencing fear over getting yourself and your family ill, resentment that your career is one that requires you to be out there when others are not, and paranoia.

Some of these are based in reality, and some are not, especially the guilt and paranoia ones. Be gentle with yourself. If you find that nasty little inner voice saying its usual nasty things, confront it. You wouldn’t say those things to someone you love, right? So why are you saying them to yourself? Tell that voice to shut up, and then go do some of the earlier suggestions, there isn’t a single suggestion on this list that won’t improve your mental and emotional state.

So. As you can see, there are things you can do to keep yourself in better condition. I truly hope that these suggestions help.

Now, stay safe, stay calm and stay kind.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to I post blogs every Wednesday.