Writing is awesome. I love it. I get to sit at my desk and make up stories and have snacks and coffee while I work. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Life as a writer can be hard on our health and bodies, unless we’re proactive in taking care of ourselves.
So far, I’ve been fairly poor at this. I’d like to improve my health and thought I’d share with you a few steps I plan to take. Of course, this isn’t to be considered as medical advice, and you should definitely consult with your health professional. I am only sharing my own (able-bodied) experiences.
The more I write, the more I weigh. It’s pretty easy to see why. Writing is, for the most part, a sedentary career. Currently, I have what I fondly refer to as Author’s Butt – meaning it’s big. In my case, it’s my own fault for slacking off in my physical activity and exercise.
What can I do to help combat this? Get up and move! I’m building the habit of writing in forty-five minute increments. After that I get up and move around for a few minutes. Sometimes I take the dogs out with me to check the mail. Sometimes I’ll go and fold a load of laundry and put it away. But most times I have a little dance party. I’ll put on a favorite song, and booty pop to it for a few minutes. It helps get the blood flowing.
I also go for a walk during my lunch break. And I’m working exercise into my schedule. I don’t have room for a treadmill desk in my apartment, but I’ve heard great things from those who use one. That might be something I look into one day. Just do what you can to get your body moving throughout the day.
For the past few months, I really thought I needed glasses. On some days my vision would be so blurry it was hard to see, and I kept getting headaches. I went to the doctor for an eye exam and to my surprise she told me I didn’t need glasses. All of my problems seemed to be from eye strain. Which means I need to take better care of my eyes since I’m on the computer all day. A few tips:
1) Drink water and stay hydrated!
2) Use eye drops to keep eyes moisturized. Dry eyes were a problem for me with my little space heater blowing hot hair in my face during Houston’s admittedly short cold season.
3) Wear tinted computer glasses. I’ve owned a pair of these for several years and they definitely help me. They cut back on the glare from the computer screen. On days I don’t wear them, I tend to be prone to squinting and headaches.
4) Set up the computer screen for optimal viewing. Make sure it’s at a height so that you don’t have to strain your neck looking either up or down to see it. I’ve got my monitor set on top of stacked Buffy graphic novels because it was so low I hurt my neck looking down all day. I’ve also adjusted the brightness so that it’s comfortable for my eyes. And as an alternative to the computer glasses, anti-glare screen covers are great.
5) Take breaks from the computer. A good rule of thumb seems to be looking away from the computer every twenty minutes and focusing on something off in the distance for twenty seconds.
6) Get off the computer when tired! There have been far too many nights I’ve pushed myself staying up late into the night to write and my tired eyes were never happy about it.
If you’re having any issues with your vision, be sure to start with an eye exam to rule out other possible causes.
I won’t even pretend to know anything about serious issues like Carpal Tunnel. But I do know that healthy hands are important for writers! Wrists rests for both the keyboard and mouse pad are great for keeping your hands at angles that don’t strain your wrists as you type. You can also do wrist exercises to keep them strong and limber. A Google search will lead you to a few like ball gripping (heh-heh), flexing, etc.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR BACK. This is so important. Twice I’ve strained my back writing while sitting in kooky positions. Once I ended up having to write laying on the floor for nearly a week the pain was so bad.
If possible, try not to write hunched over sitting on the floor, or slouched over to the side in an uncomfortable chair. The side slouch is what got me. Yowza those spasms were painful! An ergonomic chair with arm rests is probably the best option. But those aren’t cheap and we aren’t made of money.
You can try a slip on back rest made to go over the back of your chair. I've seen them for about $20-$25. Or do whatever works best for you, whether that’s a rolled up towel or pillow stuffed behind your back. The point is to be sure you are sitting in a position that’s good for your back and helps you have good posture.
Another option is to have a standing desk. Since those aren’t always a possibility for everyone due to cost or space, there’s cool lectern-type portable setups. I’ve had one on my wish list forever and eventually I’m going to go ahead and purchase it. And of course, don’t forget to get up and move throughout the day to help keep your back and backside muscles active.
Those are my tips! A few things that might help to keep our bodies healthy as we create stories for our readers to enjoy. Thanks for reading!
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