Apparently I frown a lot

Apparently I frown a lot

Confession: I totally brush my hair and put on lip gloss when I have a Skype meeting.

It’s very rare that I have conference calls on Skype, but when I do, I find myself trying to curate the experience for the other participants. I love making sure the background is good and that my face is not in a shadow (for those who don’t ever do video conferences, know that it’s really annoying when someone’s background is super-bright and his face is a dark blob). I put on a little lip gloss and make sure to smile and act like I’m in a real-life conversation, no matter how alone in my office I may actually be.

Last week, I had a Skype call for one of my other gigs and opened my computer’s Photo Booth app to test the lighting and look of the room. I also wanted to avoid what I’d seen in previous conferences: someone having the computer’s camera facing either directly at her chest or up on the ceiling!  Once I adjusted the lighting, put some gloss on my lips, and brushed my hair for the first time all day, I figured I was good to go.  I navigated to another program and accidentally left Photo Booth open.

Imagine my surprise when I minimized my internet browser window and saw this hunched, frowning woman staring at me.  Ack! It was me, or my reflection, staring back at me, thanks to my computer’s camera.  I’ve written before about my posture, so it was no surprise to me to see that, when caught unawares, my posture was less than exemplary. Oops.

What I hadn’t expected to see was this frowning, frumpy face.  My brow was totally furrowed, and deep lines appeared on my forehead.  I didn’t feel angry or frustrated or even particularly contemplative, so what was with the fierce frown?

Since catching myself last week, I have tried to be more aware of what my facial expressions look like. What does it feel like to be frowning? I didn’t have a mirror to put up at my desk, but I do have a poster in a frame that reflects my image back at me.  I’m someone who doesn’t ever look at the keyboard while typing; instead, my eyes wander the room as I think and write.  Sometimes my eyes wander directly to my own image, reflected in this poster frame. And boom! bam! zam! There is the frowning girl again.

Honestly, I had no idea that I frowned so much. I’d like to think it’s a sign of my being a deep thinker, someone who’s concentrating really hard on the complexities of life.  That’s a flattering perspective, for sure—sadly, it’s not true.  I have caught myself frowning while writing personal essays just as much as I’ve caught myself frowning while wasting my time looking at my friend’s sister’s husband’s best friend’s vacation photos on Facebook.

Frowning certainly can’t help the migraine brain. Any unnecessary and prolonged muscle tension leads to stiffness and discomfort, and muscle tension can be a migraine trigger for many of us (particularly if that tension is in the shoulders, neck, and/or head).

Let’s hope my inelegant scare-myself-in-the-reflection technique helps train me to stop frowning so damned much.

How about you? Do you catch yourself frowning or tensing other muscles involuntarily and/or on a habitual basis? What, if anything, do you do to break yourself of the habit?

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