“The Worry Catapult” is an intervention which can be used at a somatic level to avoid or reduce stress-related facial wrinkles, at an emotional level for relaxation and at a social level to practice new behavioural patterns for dealing with interpersonal stress.
One of the games we used to play at school was to stretch a rubber band between two fingers of one hand and then shoot folded bits of paper at the other pupils, or even at the teacher when his back was turned at the blackboard. It was against the school rules, of course, but it was still great fun and a good way of keeping boredom at bay. A sawn-off forked branch and a rubber ring from a preserving jar could be used in a similar way to make a stone catapult, and even now I still often think of these different kinds of catapults.
Sometimes wrinkles appear on my face because I am afraid, annoyed, sympathetic or troubled. I know that if they become a fixed part of my repertoire of facial expressions, in a few years’ time these expressions will turn into basic facial characteristics which determine my neutral appearance regardless of my mood – wrinkles and all. This is not what I want, and it is also not what I need.
My face muscles are like a worry catapult which is stretched between my ears. Whenever my skin tenses up in one spot and forms wrinkles in another, and whenever a particular level of tension has been exceeded, the catapult goes “pop” and the muscles relax. All the worries, all the annoyance, all the anger – catapulted away into time and space. Sometimes they are fired into nothingness, and sometimes they are sent to someone who – unlike me – will give them a good home. The only thing left on my face is a smile, as I know that the worry wrinkles have not made a home for themselves this time.