Write for Your Health

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A healthy cup of tea for productive writing.
Photo credit | EKHumphrey
Generally writers sit a lot. Obviously, this can be hazardous to your health.

If you are steadily working at the keyboard, what are some other ways to keep a focus on health? In no particular order, here are five tips I use to keep my eye on writing deadlines and my health:

1. Water! If you spend your time typing, you have little time to reach out and grab some water. But if you do nothing else, keep a glass of water nearby. One of the tricks I have, especially when my desk is overflowing with papers, is to put a reusable water bottle by my feet. If I don’t follow through on numbers two through five, drinking the water helps keep my mind sharp. I also often feel tired if I don’t drink enough water, so I work to stay hydrated when I sit at my computer.

2. Stretch! Even the speediest of writers needs to take a break every now and then. Sometimes I’m in a public library and feel as if I can’t leave my computer, so I’ll sit up taller in my chair and reach my hands above my head and clasp my hands. Moving my hands from side to side helps to keep some of my stiffness at bay until I can take a proper walk. (I also try to give my neck a break and gently roll it around regularly.)

3. Healthy snacks! You know you’re going to get hungry…so make it healthy. A candy bar can be an occasional treat, but if you’re spending more time sitting than you are exercising, candy should be kept to a minimum. Instead of placing a candy bowl on your desk, start your writing day with a handful or small bowl of nuts or seeds on your desk. As the day moves into night, you can swap out the nuts for sliced apples or carrots. For drinks, I avoid coffee and drink tea—especially green tea.

4. Breathe! Even when you’re under pressure, remember to breathe. Sounds simple, but try thinking about your breathing next time you are on deadline. It can help to refocus your mind, as well as keep you more relaxed. Even when you are not in a rush, shifting your mind to think about your breathing can help to destress you. When you take a deep breath, you also might try to focus on something other than your computer screen. Your eyes will thank you.

5. Move! It’s easier said than done when you want to hit that 5,000-word daily goal, but moving can help you focus on your health and your writing. Try planning a walk during your day, especially when you might need some additional time to think through some of your writing. A walk can be restorative and help work out your body’s kinks, as well as you mind’s! If you don’t have time to take a walk, then plan mini-breaks during your writing. Create a path around your home or take the long way to the bathroom. Not getting up enough? See tip #1 and drink more water!

Sitting at your desk doesn’t mean that you have to be completely unhealthy and sedentary.

What do you do to try to stay healthy when writing?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in North Carolina. She enjoys walking along the river in downtown Wilmington.


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