Is Writing Hazardous to Your Health?
(And if it is, what you can do about it.)
Stress, inactivity, and a diet lacking in the proper nutrients, are three culprits often blamed for making any number of diseases worse, and even making us vulnerable to them in the first place.
As writers, we hit the trifecta of bad health habits every day! We sit in front of our computers for hours, neglect healthy eating habits, and are in constant angst with a plethora of stressors: writing a certain amount a day, finishing our projects, formatting them, proofing them, marketing our wares.
We need to be alert to these dangers and find ways to take care of ourselves. It’s difficult to focus on good writing if you’re feeling rotten.
Some ways to take care of yourself:
1. Build time into your schedule for exercise. Find something you enjoy, (I recommend walking. Preferably with a dog!), and build time into your schedule for it every day.
2. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. I know, then you’ll have to get up and pee a lot, but that short trip to the bathroom will give your circulation time to regroup.
3. Set a timer for every 30 minutes. Stand up and do something that takes your eyes off the computer screen and moves your body. If it helps, have a list of things other than writing you can fit in.
4. While sitting, routinely move your legs and stretch your arms. There are lots of “chair exercises” available online. Find a few you can do while writing and add them to you goal list. If money is no object, look into the new treadmills with computer stands.
5. Get in the habit of taking deep breaths, the kind from your abdomen up, at least five an hour while you’re sitting.
6. Most writers’ stress comes from the feeling of being overwhelmed with all the things we need to do in a day. Use goal setting to keep on track, and refer to it often. It’ll keep procrastination to a minimum, and you’ll get those projects done with a lot less stress.
7. Make sure to get enough sleep! Try to stay on a consistent, seven to eight hours sleep a night schedule. Resist the lure of writing into the wee hours of the night unless you have enough time to make up for it the following day.
8. Don’t overlook fun! Make time for your loved ones and the things you enjoy doing. Especially those things that keep you active.
9. Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy snacks you can enjoy at your desk. I understand it’s a lot more gratifying to grab a bag of chips, a quick cookie, or a candy bar, but remember the nutrients in one banana will keep your brain functioning at peak for hours!
10. Give yourself a pat on the back. Get out of the habit of negative thinking. When you find that you’re beating up on yourself, take a minute and write down all the positive things you’ve accomplished.
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Being over fifty, I find these tips even more critical and wanted to share them with you. I talked about goal setting last week, and I’d advise adding some of these to your list. The great thing about writing for us older authors is it’s something we can do even from a wheelchair or a bed! But we don’t want to rush ourselves to that point, do we? So let’s stay aware of our needs while we work at our writing. It pays off!
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