Take sewing, for instance: If a woman must sew all day long without cessation and she can appreciate that ten or fifteen minutes taken out of the day once in the morning and once in the afternoon is going to save fatigue and help her to do her sewing better, doesn’t it seem simply a lack of common sense if she is not willing to take that half hour and use it for its right purpose? Or, if she is employed with others, is it not a lack of common sense combined with cruelty in her employer if he will not permit the use of fifteen minutes twice a day to help his employees to do their work better and to keep more healthy in the process of working?
It seems to me that all most of us need is to have our attention drawn to the facts in such cases as this and then we shall be willing and anxious to correct the mistakes.
First, we do not know, and, secondly, we do not think, intelligently. It is within our reach to do both.
Let me put the facts about healthy sewing in numerical order:—
First—A woman should never sew nor be allowed to sew in bad air. The more or less cramped attitude of the chest in sewing makes it especially necessary that the lungs should be well supplied with oxygen, else the blood will lose vitality, the appetite will go and the nerves will be straining to bring the muscles up to work which they could do quite easily if they were receiving the right amount of nourishment from air and food.
Second—When our work gives our muscles a tendency steadily in one direction we must aim to counteract that tendency by using exercises with a will to pull them in the opposite way.
If a man writes constantly, to stop writing half a dozen times a day and stretch the fingers of his hand wide apart and let them relax back slowly will help him so that he need not be afraid of writer’s paralysis.
Now a woman’s tendency in sewing is to have her chest contracted and settled down on her stomach, and her head bent forward. Let her stop even twice a day, lift her chest off her stomach, see that the lifting of her chest takes her shoulders back, let her head gently fall back, take a long quiet breath in that attitude, then bring the head up slowly, take some long quiet breaths like gentle sighs, gradually let the lungs settle back into their habitual state of breathing, and then try the exercise again.
If this exercise is repeated three times in succession with quiet care, its effect will be very evident in the refreshment felt when a woman begins sewing again.
At the very most it can only take two minutes to go through the whole exercise and be ready to repeat it.
That will mean six minutes for the three successive times.
Six minutes can easily be made up by the renewed vigor that comes from the long breath and change of attitude. Stopping for the exercise three times a day will only take eighteen—or at the most twenty-minutes out of the day’s work and it will put much more than that into the work in new power.