Summer-weight wool? No sweat

Published 4:41 pm Friday, August 23, 2019


Coffee with Mimi

We all need to relieve a little — or a lot — of stress at some point in our lives. Maybe there are some folks out there who breeze through their days, weeks and years with not a care in the world. I am not one of them. I have learned a couple methods which work for me. The trick is to use them.

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Sweat — there is scientific evidence that intentional sweating is good for your mind and body. You can look it up; I did, just to verify my own experience. Sweating is our body’s built-in mechanism to maintain a safe body temperature of around 98.6 degrees.  Sweating also kicks in a bunch of other physiological reactions in the body, which are very desirable: an increased heart rate pumps up the blood flow to muscles, increases production of healthy proteins, and so on.

In past centuries, it was considered unladylike to sweat. Although, how those women remained sweat-free is a mystery to me. Have you taken a look at the fashions through the centuries? Every inch of the woman’s anatomy was covered from head to toe, with the exception of the face. We aren’t talking about filmy, lightweight, breathable fabrics either. An appropriately dressed woman wore layers of inner, under- and outer-garments which kept her cinched, laced and buttoned up, even in summer, like summer- weight wool. The rationale is that the wool fabric produced for summer wear is woven looser.  The theory is that the wool fibers will trap atmospheric moisture and keep it stored in the outer layer of the fabric, thus keeping the side closest to the skin dry and cool.

What strategy does the wool have for dealing with moisture produced by the human’s personal atmosphere, i.e., sweat? I don’t believe for one minute that no sweat is produced by the summer-weight wool wearing body. Even a little bit of activity surely resulted in sweating, especially wearing all those constricting garments. Being a curious sort, I should design an experiment and wear a summer-weight wool dress to work one day (not on your life). Sometimes ignorance is acceptable.

Thankfully, fashion, societal expectations and knowledge have evolved and humans are perfectly comfortable wearing appropriate clothing for the activities of life. It is perfectly acceptable, encouraged, to engage in sweat producing activities. An entire industry has sprung up providing us with fabrics which wick, store, breathe and move to encourage us to get out there, be active and fashionably attired, as well.

But, the best part about sweating is the after-sweating. A scientific term I have coined which describes the completion of the cycle of sweating and actually ensures the desired outcome of stress reduction. You may use the term and the process freely.  I highly recommend it.

After-sweating is the cooling down, cleaning up and refueling. The process must be perfectly timed for maximum benefit and mental fitness. I will walk you through the sequence using grass mowing, a seriously sweat producing activity, as an example.

The key to success is to allow ample time between the beginning of the process and your next scheduled event. Here is where you can either relieve stress or increase the level of stress in your life which completely negates the benefits of sweating. I know this to be true because I have messed it up many times.

Let’s say the grass has reached a critical point and must be managed. A stress producing situation if ever there was one and that is not what you want. Before you speed into the driveway after work and yank the mower out of the garage, stop and take a minute to assess what the rest of the day has in store. Do you have any other task demanding your attention? You are going to be working up a sweat in the yard and you want to maximize that sweating effort by following through thoroughly.

We will assume there is a clear calendar for the rest of the day. Get out there and mow.  Clean up the mower. Roll it into the garage. Kick off the yard shoes in the garage. All these steps are important. You don’t relieve stress if tomorrow you are sweeping up grass clippings in the living room instead of reading, or whatever.

Drink some water and then some more water.

Cool down. Be productive during this step. Stroll around the house and straighten up, gather the recycling, take out the trash, scoop the kitty litter. There is no rushing allowed.

Then, and only then, shower and dress for the rest of the day. Cleaning up is like washing the stress away. If you skip this step, or attempt it too soon, you waste an awful lot of the benefit of sweating. You might as well be wearing non summer-weight wool.   

Now, the best part of the stress reducing activity, relax in whatever way you enjoy.  Read, watch TV, cook dinner, work on a hobby, go out to dinner with friends — all with a clutter free mind. This example can be generalized to a variety of stressful situations.  Use often.