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News to Soothe You the Seamstress
Alleviating Eyestrain

By Laurie Neinhaus

First published on the Sewstorm Publishing Web site at www.sewstorm.com. Reprinted with permission.

Who Is Laurie Nienhaus?

I am a transplanted Midwesterner now living in Portland, Oregon with my husband and two children. I have been a licensed massage therapist for over 17 years and have sewn since my early high school years. In 1996 I began designing vintage inspired accessories and early last year the pattern company Montana Moon came into being.

During the course of last year, as I spent more and more time developing the sewing business, I found myself wondering how my new venture would effect my body. I realized that what I knew as a massage therapist could help me as a seamstress.

Both sewing and the managing of a sewing business can be very intense. We concentrate on our task until, before we know it, hours have passed. It is then that we become aware of the strain in our eyes, the stiffness in our neck, or the ache in our fingers.

News To Soothe is presented specifically for those of us who sew so that we can better care for ourselves. However, the information can help anyone and it is our hope that you will pass along what is shared here.

Yours In Health,
Laurie Nienhaus

Before We Begin

When thinking about what information would be most helpful for the busy seamstress, I found it necessary to begin by making several assumptions.

1. If the information presented was easy enough to put into practice -- even in the midst of our most intensely productive periods -- the body-related woes common to those of us who sew could be at least partially alleviated.

2. For our purposes, it would not be necessary to delve into the theory behind shiatzu, reflexology, etc. Nor would it be necessary to give the names of the points explained. A suggested reading list is included for those seamstresses who wish to further explore these subjects.

3. The information presented is not intended to serve as a diagnosis for an particular ailment, or as a substitute for medical care. Those with persistent eyestrain, aches and pains, etc. are urged to seek the advice of their doctor.

When Do I Do All This?

Realistically, you probably won't practice all of this on a daily basis. However, take the time to find which points or other tips give you particular relief. What is presented here can be reorganized or condensed to create your own routine.

Pressure point work may give you the edge you need when you are tired. Perhaps taking a few moments to work on yourself before beginning your sewing day will prove to be a better plan. Everyone reacts differently and only you will be able to discover your best approach.

Eye Strain

The close work required of us as seamstresses almost insures that occasional eyestrain will occur. The following pressure points will provide some immediate relief. These same points are also helpful for relieving headaches.

Remember This

1. Bend your first three fingers and press above your brow line.

2. Do the same on the bony ridge below your eye.

3. Use your thumb to apply pressure at your eye's inside corner, under your eyebrow.

4. Continue using your thumb to apply pressure along the underneath side of your eyebrow.

5. Press your first three fingers against each side of your nose.

6. Press your fingers in a line between the outer corner of your eye and the top of your ear.

Let's Talk About Palming

Palming is a way of excluding light from the eyes, making a greater degree of relaxation possible. Two methods of palming follow:

1. Fingers rest at the hairline while the fleshy part of the palm rests lightly on your closed eyes. Hold this position for several minutes.

2. Place your palms over each eye, crossing the fingers over each other. Adjust the positioning until no light filters in and you are looking into complete darkness.

What About A Flax Seed Eye Pillow?

This is for when you are actually stepping away from the sewing machine and considering lying down for a bit. Construct a 8.5 x 5.5 flannel bag. Fill with 1 to 2 cups flax seed (available at most bulk food sections of the grocery store). Stitch bag closed. Lay over your eyes as you rest.

Moving On To Simple Eye Exercises

1. Your eyes relax with long distance focusing. A good preventative idea is to periodically go to the window during your sewing day and focus your eyes for several minutes on the view furthest away from you.

2. With your eyes closed, raise your eyebrows as high as possible, then squeeze your eyes tightly shut. Repeat several times with a few moments rest in-between. Do not tighten your neck or shoulders.

3. With your eyes closed and your head straight, look up, down, and to each side. Hold each position for just a moment. Repeat several times with a few moments rest in-between.

One Final Word

You may want to consider your light source. A high percentage of people prefer full spectrum light, also known as neodymium light. This type of lighting is closest to actual sunlight and can be easier on your eyes. The bulbs fit into any standard light socket.

1998 Laurie Nienhaus

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