Some of you might be wondering why I’ve decided to write a post for writers on how to stay healthy. I realize that nearly everyone knows basic guidelines for staying healthy (it’s mostly just a matter of ignoring temptation), so why can’t writers just do the same thing? Glad you asked! I am armed and ready with an answer to this question.
If you’re a writer, or know writers, you’ll understand that such a life is very sedentary. We read, write, edit, brainstorm, and do everything else writing related while sitting down and/or hunched over a notebook or screen. This is because everything we do writing related, whether getting inspiration or actually doing the art, either comes from or goes on a piece of paper or a blank document. To sum it up, writing is definitely not an active activity, if you haven’t already noticed.
So I’ve decided to give tips on how to stay healthy specifically for all you lovely writers. Because let’s admit, it’s hard for anyone to stay healthy, but if you’re a writer on top of that? Our free time most likely does not involve exercise; it involves doing what writers do: writing. (And sometimes binging Netflix or exhausting Pinterest when we’re on an inspiration low. Which are also very sedentary ways to get inspiration, unfortunately.) On to these tips now, shall we?
1) Eat less comfort food. All the choclate and doses of caffeine we consume in hopes of increasing inspiration gain? No, stop! If you absolutely need chocolate or coffee (admit it, we all do some days), just limit your intakes. This can be hard if you’re used to eating a lot on a day to day basis, so don’t cut the intake by half right away. Start cutting down on the treats gradually. Your body doesn’t respond well to drastic, immediate changes; It likes to go slow and develop at a gradual pace.
2) Do some stretches while you’re writing, reading, or editing. Or while you’re doing anything that requires lots of sitting. Just do some basic leg stretches while on the floor, or outside if it’s warm enough (fresh air, m’dear). If you’re just going to sit and do nothing while you read, might as well try some healthy body positions while you’re at it, right? Practice your posture too while reading or editing or just taking a break. Shoulder muscles can get very tense after sitting at the computer for even half an hour.
3) Get fresh air. You may like to write inside because that’s just where your desk is, but if the weather is nice outside, it’s a good idea to bring your laptop or notebook to your backyard and get some Vitamin D while getting work done. It may even be quieter outside, which may heighten your focus and overall brain power. (Unless you’re one of those people who feeds off of noise, then that’s okay too. To each his own.)
4) Exercise. Oh, yes. You knew this one was coming up in this post sooner or later. Something tells me a lot of us have trouble making sure we get enough exercise, unless you have a strict routine that you adhere to well (good for you), particularly since we’re writers. Unfortunately, getting enough exercise may prove to be quite a feat to manage because most of your free time is spent writing instead of working out. If you have a hard time trying to fit exercise into your day, try coming up with a schedule. Make time for it. Maybe reward yourself. Tell yourself “no more writing or reading until you’ve done that half hour of jogging” to make sure it gets done. The plus for exercising before work is that exercise makes you feel better in general and leaves your brain ready for a fresh start, which is the perfect state to be in to start writing. Bonus!
5) Eat well. “Gah, I can be my own adult, thank you very much.” Yes, I hear you loud and clear. Everyone knows that to stay healthy, you gotta eat well. There are so many fads and opinions and controversies on this very topic, so here’s yet another: Eat everything in moderation and you’ll be one healthy duck. And there’s my unprofessional opinion. Just don’t eat too much of anything, really, and you’ll be a-okay. This goes particularly for sugar. I know this sounds ridiculous, but you can actually survive going without sugar for the rest of your life. But who would want to do that, right? Here’s a tip: Limit your sugar intake for the weekends. I’ve tried it before, and it’s very hard to lay off those foods, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Also, look up sugar free desserts; those are solid gold.
6) Forget the juice. If it sounds like I’ve finally lost my nut, rest assured that I haven’t yet! Everyone says fruit juice is very healthy for you because it’s basically the same as eating the actual fruit, right? Nope. Take orange juice for example. You’re drinking only the juice from the fruit, which is loaded with sugar and devoid of the healthy minerals. If you have a large glass of juice, that’s drinking juice from more than several fruits at once, so you get more than three times the intake of sugar in a few gulps. If you just eat the fruit, you get way less sugar intake, and a lot more nutrients and fiber that your body so desperately needs.
So have the fruit instead, complete with the fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. It’s worth cutting up and getting your hands sticky.
7) Get at LEAST 8 hours of sleep a night. I know this is so hard because writing is the sort of thing that requires lots of time and attention. This could go to explain why most writers are night owls; evenings tend to be quieter and so that’s when we work, which means we go to bed later than we should. To fix this dilemma? Make yourself a writing schedule. If you write in the evenings, don’t go so late, because you’ll get tired and grumpy and frustrated, and then angry at yourself for doing such a horrible writing job. Well that’s because you need TO SLEEP. Surprise!
8) Stay mentally healthy by engaging with the real world. As writers, we tend to get very immersed in our world and with our characters, that we forget to spend time with important people in our real life. This also goes for our favorite movies, TV shows, books, etc. I hate to admit it, but this media is immersive and that’s not a good thing when you give it your undivided attention. Don’t forget your real family and friends. Don’t forget Earth as you know it. Don’t forget to have a life. But don’t forget to write either. Delve into your world and into each of your characters, but don’t delve too deep lest you get depressed. (Psssh. Like writers don’t ever get depressed.)
So there you have it. I hope this post has been somewhat helpful, even though it’s a bunch of information most of you probably already know and even practice full well. And these tips are just from my experience and unprofessional knowledge (okay, I have taken a couple courses in Nutrition). I hope you walk away (or click away) from this post with the reminder that healthy habits are one of the many things that can result in better writing.