GREAT tips for stress relief! Thanks to everyone who contributed. My tips?
1. Ginger tea
2. Deep breathing and twisting stretches
3. A progressive relaxation
Back in days of yore, my therapist used to point out that I could easily blab talk for twenty minutes at a time without stopping once to take a breath. I credit her for teaching me to breathe deeply, and for teaching me how to do a progressive relaxation (or PMI). There are plenty of ways to do a PMI, but my simple version is to lie on my back and slowly relax each part of my body, starting with my toes and ending with my forehead. (It’s not at all unlike what one might experience in savasana.) You can do it anywhere (I do this in my office frequently), and take as much time as you’ve got. Try it!
Since we’re chatting about anxiety, let’s discuss a commonplace source of anxiety: ill fitting clothes. We’re all sensitive to clothes and how they fit: how could we not be? Clothes are an unmistakable reminder of our body’s dimensions. Sometimes, that reminder becomes a little burdensome. This, friends, is why I recommend being the keeper of a dynamic wardrobe-a wardrobe that changes with you.
Our bodies, like our characters and values and personalities, exist in a gentle state of flux. Dramatic shifts in weight usually signal trouble: they may indicate an illness, a hormonal imbalance, depression, or eating habits that are overly restrictive or excessive. But small ups and downs in weight—which can be caused by minor dietary changes, new fitness routines, hormonal cycles, or water retention and release—are par for the course for any healthy body as a year goes by.
For men or women who have struggled with eating disorders, meanwhile, weight gain—sometimes more than the small amount I’ve just described—is a crucial part of the path to wellness. You can’t be skin and bones and be healthy at the same time; accepting this is crucial for recovery. And part of this acceptance means not looking back with a wistful glance at your once too-thin form and the clothes you dressed it in.
Many of my readers are women who were once too thin. And many of them are tormented by articles of clothing that serve as reminders of their former ill health; double-zero pants seem to put their now healthy bodies to shame, while XS blouses taunt them from the recesses of their wardrobes. I’m never surprised when I receive emails from readers who describe an emotional battle with outgrown clothing–who among us could possibly not be sensitive to jeans that are too tight? What does surprise me is how many women simply keep these clothes around, trying them on now and again only to be reminded that they don’t fit, or wearing clothes that are too tight to be comfortable. If this sounds familiar, I have one word for you:
That’s right. Ebay, my friends. It may come as a surprise to you, but there is no reason on God’s earth why you should be clinging to clothes that no longer fit. Freedom is but a mouse click away. Now, it may feel wasteful: for those of us on a budget, getting rid of any garment, no matter what the reason, seems tantamount to sin. But what’s ultimately more important? Your maintenance of good health, or saving a dime? Get real. Ebay is there for a reason—it’s a way to make a buck off of clothing that isn’t wearable anymore. And clothes you wore when you were too thin don’t qualify as wearable.
There are other options. You can share clothing with a friend. You can give them to a thrift store or Salvation Army store. You can walk to virtually any church and find a donation acceptance box. When I was growing up, my Mom and I always gave anything I’d outgrown to my building super, who gave them to his daughter. There are plenty of options. The important thing is for you to stop loving the clothes that don’t love you.
This, I assure you, will be freeing. It’ll free you from the physical reminders of a dark past. It’ll serve as proof that you’ve moved past the desire to inhabit a body that isn’t healthy. It’ll make you feel brave, because it won’t be easy. And on a practical level, it’ll encourage you to devote time and money to finding clothing that makes you feel comfortable. Walking around in a pair of jeans that are a size too small is not only psychologically precarious—it’s impractical and silly! Building a wardrobe that fits you is common sense.
This isn’t only advice for the formerly disordered. Even if your body has experienced a small, but healthy change (in other words, if you’ve gained a little weight that was unintentional, but is still perfectly healthy), it’s worth having a wardrobe that works with you, rather than against you. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that anyone has the money to overhaul her closet every single time her body goes up or down by a few pounds. But I do think it’s smart to have a wardrobe that accommodates your body’s dynamism, rather than using clothes to reinforce the idea that your body isn’t allowed to change.
As much as I like to encourage women to accept our bodies as stable entities (in the sense that I discourage constant pressure to shape up), I also think it’s important for all of us to remember that our bodies are not fixed. They develop with us. They accommodate puberty, childbearing, and menopause. They reflect growth. So give your body the freedom to evolve.
This philosophy, like any other, can be taken to an extreme; if you are already at a robust and ideal body weight, then observing how clothes fit can be a practical way of knowing whether or not your body is staying in a healthy place. But if old clothing is holding you back from self-acceptance, then do yourself a favor and dive into some spring cleaning. This isn’t giving up, or giving in—it’s a way of embracing growth. And the best part is that you’ll emerge with a wardrobe that makes you feel your best–isn’t that what clothing is supposed to do?
What do you think? Do you like the idea of a dynamic wardrobe? Have you ever allowed a piece of clothing to trap you in the past?
On that note, it’s back to work I go. For any of you who loved raw Wednesdays last spring and summer, check out the revival of that tradition over at Whole Living Daily. I’m excited to be strumming up enthusiasm again!