You can’t turn on the TV or flip through a magazine without being told how unhealthy we’re all becoming. And whilst no-one has the perfect lifestyle, writing isn’t the healthiest occupation there is. Yes, you’re exercising your mind and being creative, but are you taking care of yourself in other ways? Whether you write full-time or not, here’s some advice to keep healthy.
1) Make your workspace comfortable
If you’re going to spend a lot of time writing, you should do it somewhere as ergonomic as possible. The last thing you want is to not be able to work because of RSI or worse. I know it’s not always possible to have a dedicated space to work, but a small desk and adjustable chair are pretty much all you need. Even if you’re at the kitchen table, an adjustable chair will help, and smaller support items like wrist or feet rests can be very effective. There’s lots of advice online about ergonomics and setting up a workspace.
2) Give your eyes a break
If you write using a screen make sure it’s adequately lit, with no glare. The 20-20-20 rule is a good one to go by. Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away.
3) Get moving
I know how it goes – when you get in your writing zone, the last thing you want to do is stop. But unless you really can’t stop for even a minute, try getting up and moving about at least once an hour. Go to the toilet, nip to the kitchen, or just go stare out of the window in another room. Setting an alarm to remind you is a great idea. If you work on a digital device there are lots of extensions and apps you can get to regularly remind you to take a break.
4) Keep hydrated
If you’re dehydrated, even by only a small amount, it can have a big impact or your thinking ability. And what do you need to be at peak performance to write? Your brain! You could combine the above advice of taking regular breaks to make sure you’re getting enough to drink. Fill up a reusable bottle before you start writing so you have a good supply to sip on in case you get absorbed into something. The same advice applies to eating too. You can go a bit longer without chowing down, but a good supply of healthy snacks is vital.
5) Exercise (sorry)
I know there are people who love exercise because I’ve seen them on TV and in magazines. But for most of us exercise is a thing we know we need to do but we’re not exactly passionate about it. If you’re the kind of person who’s happy to spend hours sitting down writing, you’re probably not a natural gym bunny. But there are lots of ways to be active. A standing desk (or even one with a treadmill) could be the way to go. But it’s probably best to get away from your work and get a bit physical. Your writing will thank you too.
6) Get outside
That big, shiny ball in the sky? That’s the sun. When it chooses to make an appearance, it’s a good idea to go out to say hello. We all need to get our vitamin D fix after all. Spending time in nature is also an effective way to boost your mood and keep creative. And it ties in with tip five above.
7) Catch some z’s
Sleep is vital for well-being. But we can all suffer from sleeping problems. Having a story or two on the brain can make it especially hard. While burning the midnight oil writing could work for a while, it’s really not a sustainable. There’s no story that’s worth your health!
Writers tend to like their own company (they have to, they spend enough time in it), but we all need to have a little bit of time with others. I’m not saying you have to throw yourself into clubbing or anything. Just having a cup of tea with a friend, or calling a parent or sibling for a catch up can be enough. If you want to combine it with your writing ambitions, try joining a writing group or book club.
What self-care tips do you have for writers? Leave a comment and let us know!