Being a writer is an exciting and fulfilling profession, but it’s also one that can wreak havoc on the body and mind. Long days of sitting and staring at a computer, in solitary, can harm writers’ physical and mental health. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Writers can avoid common ailments and stay fit by incorporating some key health practices into their daily writing lives.
Physical Health and Fitness Tips for Writers
Most writers will agree that an aching, ailing body is bad for productivity. Below are some important health tips for writers that will keep the body fit and in good working order:
- Practice good posture. Poor posture is common among writers, who have a habit of hunching at their computers. But poor posture can lead to all kinds of ailments, including back trouble, bad circulation, and even joint and muscle damage. Practicing good posture – sitting straight, with shoulders back and down – can alleviate those problems. Using a properly adjusted chair or an exercise ball instead of a chair can also help.
- Stand and stretch. Physical fitness includes stretching the muscles – an especially good piece of advice for writers who sit for long periods of time. In fact, a quick stretch break every hour or so can do wonders for the body. Practice stretching the arms overhead, across the chest, and behind the back. Standing lunges are good for the legs.
- Avoid eyestrain. Many writers suffer eyestrain from computer work and excessive reading. Unfortunately, eyestrain doesn’t just affect the eyes; it can lead to horrendous headaches, fatigue, and loss of concentration. The Mayo Clinic offers some excellent tips for avoiding eyestrain, including adjusting keyboards, checking lighting, and placing research materials at the same level as monitors.
- Maintain a healthy weight. How? By exercising and eating right – two good fitness tips for anyone with a sedentary job. Exercise can be anything from a simple walk around the block to a trip to the gym for an exercise class. Keep plenty of healthy foods on hand for meals and snacks.
- Stay hydrated. Writers who don’t take the time to drink fluids regularly will pay, in the form of weight gain, headaches, tiredness, and constipation and other digestive troubles. Make a glass of water or tea (or other healthy beverage) a desktop staple – and one that is continually refilled.
- Get some D. Too much writing indoors can deplete vitamin D levels, which are essential for health and fitness. A 15-minute break outside on a sunny day is all you need. Bring a notepad and pencil along, and use the time to brainstorm in the sun. If the weather isn’t conducive to an outdoor break, consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
Mental Fitness Tips for Writers
Mental fitness is also key for the overall health of writers. Here are a few tips to keep the mind sharp and healthy:
- Connect with others. Depression is a common ailment of writers, who spend many hours alone. That’s why it’s important to take some time each day to socialize. For writers who can’t squeeze in time to socialize in person, social networking can also help. Join Facebook or a writer’s forum, or just shoot off a few e-mails to friends or family. Any form of interaction benefits.
- Get inspired. Many writers complain of burnout or loss of interest, which can harm mental fitness. The best way to turn burnout around? Get inspired. Go to an author event, take in an inspirational film, or simply schedule some time off or a mini-vacation to recharge. With a little inspiration, writers will be ready for a fresh start once they resume writing.
- Insomnia is another common ailment of writers, who may either have trouble falling asleep or who stay up too late writing. Sleep is important, though; it not only keeps the mind alert and focused, it helps the body’s metabolism and is vital for physical fitness too. Writers with insomnia problems can get help by seeking a doctor’s advice and adopting good sleep habits.
- Praise yourself. Writers face rejection more often than people in many other professions. But writers also tend to overlook all the positives of their jobs. Taking the time to reflect on accomplishments and practice self-praise can improve a writer’s attitude and outlook. Even the smallest achievements – a positive comment from an editor, a chapter completed, or a complimentary note from a reader – are worth a pat on the back.
Although writers are often victims of common ailments, from back pain to depression, there are ways they can avoid health problems and maintain mental and physical fitness. Practicing the above tips can help. After all, a writer who feels good will writer even better.