Sometimes it seems that I’m living under a never-ending to-do list of deadlines and obligations and appointments. I check one off and, like a weed, another grows in its place. Even that first-world mandate of “me time” feels like yet another item I need to satisfy before I actually get a break.
And while I often feel like the only way I can legitimately “de-stress” is by paying a masseuse to knead away the kinks or an expensive hotel to lounge around its pool for a few days — as conditioned as I am by modern marketing — in reality, we can all de-stress in more low-key and everyday ways. If it’s the little things that matter, then I think the little steps we incorporate into our daily lives can make an accumulative difference in decreasing our stress levels. And since skincare is something we do on a regular (and if you’re me, obsessive) level, it shouldn’t be too difficult to add some stress-relieving steps that’ll make not just our skin but our entire being better. Here’s how.
1. Be your own facialist
Who doesn’t love a massage? And a facial massage, for me, is the ultimate in luxury. But you don’t have to spend hundreds to relax under the gentle kneading and prodding of a skilled facialist. After all, Korean women don’t just pat on their skin care. They take the time to give themselves a little facial massage at various points in their regimen. One K-beauty executive presses her toner in with her palms, pressing firmly on her forehead, chin, and cheeks. Others, taking a cue from Korean facialists, use their knuckles to massage underneath the cheekbone and along the jaw for a contouring lift while applying a face cream.
There are all sorts of ways to give yourself a facial massage, but you want to find something that works for you. After all, if you’re not comfortable with a method, you’re not going to do it all. Some typical ways Korean women massage their face include:
- Sweep your pointer and middle knuckles from the apples of your cheeks to the temples.
- Starting between your eyebrows, sweep your knuckles up the forehead and down the periphery of your face.
- Gently press two fingertips underneath the eyes and sweep out and upwards to the temple a few times to release excess fluid. Slowly massage temples.
- If you don’t want to pull on the delicate eye area, press your fingers into various points around your eyes: inner corners, along brow bones, and underneath eyes.
- Again with your knuckles, start at your chin and push up and out along your jawline to the bottom of your ear to get that coveted V-line.
Just make sure you use a hefty dose of facial oil, cream or serum so that you have enough slip, and you’re not pulling too much on your skin.
2. Use aromatherapy to calm
There are all sorts of scents and essential oils formulated to do a variety of things, from energize to placate. But each of us has our favorite fragrances, so while lavender is supposed to help us sleep, if you don’t like that scent, it’s not likely going to do anything but give you nightmares. So why not relax with a fragrance you particularly love, one that results in an endorphin rush in your brain, if not necessarily anyone else’s?
It’s not just room sprays or perfumes that can elicit such a reaction. Anything with a fragrance can help us to de-stress, even our skincare. Take a moment to deeply breathe in the scent of your favorite moisturizer before patting it on. Yuri Pibu Cucu Black Truffle Cream has a gorgeously light scent of lemon bread, if you’re so inclined. Huxley’s signature grassy-fresh scent lightly lingers on skin. Massage your temples and underneath your eyes with a naturally scented eye cream. And if you love the herbal scent of that facial mist, spritz it on your face not just when your skin feels tight but when you’re feeling the pressure of deadlines. In fact, go a little crazy — spray your pillow before bed or mist your hair for a little halo of well-being.
3. Sheet mask while meditating
Regular meditation yields a plethora of health benefits, from improved concentration to a stronger immune system. But did you know meditation is also a great anti-ager? After all, science is increasingly confirming that stress is the cause of a host of beauty maladies, from acne to hair loss. And one of the easiest ways to decrease the stress level in our lives? Meditation.
Of course, meditation may be an easy way to quell anxiety, but in no way is meditation easy. I admit, the few times I (barely) gave it a go, I was either too fidgety to sit still for very long or ironically felt anxious that I wasn’t doing it right. Funny thing is I can’t get myself to sheet mask more regularly because of that same problem — carving out 20 to 30 minutes when my face can’t move. So imagine if I killed two birds with one stone and sheet masked while meditating? Wouldn’t that double my anti-aging prowess? Because really, probably the only thing that will keep me still for 20 minutes is the thought that I’m actually multi-tasking in my meditation.
4. Bring it om with some face yoga
Yes, it’s a thing. The same way yoga is meant to tone, relax, and balance your body, face yoga can help you rework your facial muscles that have practically frozen into a half frown or resting b-tch face.
Ready for nirvana? Like regular yoga, there are a variety of poses out there, but these are some of my favorite (and easy to do) poses:
- To smooth forehead and frown lines: Lift your forehead and open your eyes wide.
- To counteract eyelid sagging: Look up, lifting eyebrows as high as you can. Then keeping your brows lifted, close your eyes.
- To strengthen cheek muscles: Take a deep breath so that your cheeks puff up. Push the breath into one cheek and then the other.
- To smooth nasolabial lines: Place palms at your temples and lift up and back. Then make an elongated “O” with your mouth, stretching your face.
- To tighten the jawline and neck: Lift your chin high, press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and smile.
- To relax: Close your eyes, and focus on relaxing your face except for a slight smile.
Make sure to breathe deeply and evenly through your nostrils as you hold these poses for four to eight breaths, and take a 10 second break between poses with your face relaxed. Of course, the best part is you can do face yoga after your DIY facial massage. And now that you’re such a productive multi-tasker, you have two less things to be stressed about.
Anna M. Park is the editor of beauty and travel blog Styleunderpressure.com.