There is more to this issue than restrictive clothes and poor breathing habits. What about high heels, which are known to cause misalignment in the body? What about the position and design of office furniture, the height of keyboards or computer screens? These things can usually be adjusted to accommodate better posture or to give the body more room to move. Often people put up with unnecessary pain because they don’t stop to think about how easily they could change their situation.
Let’s not overlook the issue of clothing fabrics and how these restrict the skin’s ability to breathe. Many skin disorders and rashes are simply the results of irritation and poor ventilation caused by clothing. Popular synthetics, such as dacron and polyester, are made of smooth fibers that can be woven very tightly. These fabrics may resist wrinkling, but they don’t breathe. Since the body invisibly eliminates a substantial portion of waste products through the skin, open weave fabrics like cotton and wool are more healthful.
Many people wear a particular uniform or clothing style at their jobs. You can still dress in healthier and looser clothing with careful shopping and a little creativity. Many shoe companies now carry styles that are sensibly designed yet suitable for business wear, and comfortable, neatly tailored clothing is available in natural fabrics.
Get in the habit of tuning in to your body, becoming aware of tightness or pain that builds up or surprises you as you go through your day. This tension can take many forms. Some people walk around with their shoulders up around their ears; others keep their buttock muscles constantly contracted. You may wrinkle your forehead and give yourself wrinkles and headaches; you may grit your teeth and actually grind them down or create a chronic tension in your jaw; you may clench your fists, often to compensate for an unwillingness to express emotion in more direct ways.
Besides trapping the tension in your body, all of these unconscious gestures expend energy. Become aware of how tightly you hold your toothbrush, or your pencil, or the steering wheel of your car. Over time, these unconscious habits can take their toll. They can hurt your body, as can happen with overly vigorous toothbrushing, which can wear away tooth enamel. Sitting tensely behind the wheel of your car will increase the degree of contraction (and possibly pain) in the muscles of your lower back, neck, and legs.
A word of encouragement: Loosening up doesn’t only happen in the physical body. As you let go of tension in your muscles, you may find that emotional “muscles” are loosened up as well. That may be a welcome relief or it may provide a challenge for you. If you’ve kept your grief or fear under control with a tight body armor for a long time, such feelings may be unwelcome when they first start to wiggle free. Actually, you are offering yourself a gift with this kind of loosening up. Take it slowly; take all the time you need to befriend your feelings, as we’ve discussed in 4. Befriend Your Feelings