They say that sitting is now the new smoking and as writers – we sit! It may be in front of a screen or jotting down scenes in a notebook, but the majority of our writing time is ‘bum on seat’. As with any job, there are health pitfalls, but the most common for writers are:
Musculoskeletal Disorders. Poor posture, and lack of exercise and movement. Get moving!
Eye/Vision Disorders. Too much screen time, a back light engages your brain but also burns your retinas. Look away regularly or switch off.
Headaches. Excessive screen time, or reading find print. Ensure you have regular eye tests.
Obesity. Lack of movement and too much snacking. Limit sugary and salty snacks and exercise.
Repetitive Stiffness Injuries. Attributed to mouse holding cramps and also typing/writing for long periods. Wrist, arm and shoulder exercises can help.
Stress and Depression. Working to a deadline, revisions and editing – the list is long. Set realistic goals and create step by step targets.
Hearing Damage. This may not be for everyone, but having music or back ground noise at too high a level can harm your hearing. Invest in good headphones for noise cancellation or music and keep the volume at a comfortable level.
Lower Body/Foot Swelling. Sitting for too long can result in swelling and numbness, especially if your chair position leaves your legs dangling, or footwear is not supportive. Ensure your chair is positioned for your height so your feet are firmly on the floor and wear supportive footwear.
Blood sugar. Remember your brain needs ‘food’ as well as rest. Don’t get to the ‘hangry’ status. Set a timer for meals and drink plenty of water. Hydration is vital.
Be conscious of what your body is telling you.
The healthier you are the better your writing will become – a health body is a healthy mind after all.
We are all feeling the repercussions of isolation, social distancing and lack of ‘normal’. It has affected everyone in a multitude of ways. For writers, who are normally ‘isolated’ in their writing life, there has been a change in atmosphere, inspiration, alone time and creativity. (Or lack thereof).
Whatever your normal routine, be it the impact of family at home, remote working arrangements or lack of access to resources, we can adjust.
Here are a few tips to try (or not):
One of the best options I have found is a virtual writing time. A group of us ‘meet’ on Sunday’s for a couple of hours. And although for the most part, it is a silent meeting, knowing we are connected helps with motivation and makes us accountable. We share what we will be writing at the beginning of the meeting and then summarize what we achieved at the end.
Outside time – this is vitally important to refresh the mind and body. It can be a walk, a bicycle ride and a hike. Whatever, works best for you within the confines of the social distancing parameters.
Writing space changes. It sounds odd but even a reorganization, a new arrangement of objects, a vase of flowers – can make all the difference. Maybe write in a different area of the house.
Reserve writing time. Make a commitment to write for a certain amount of time each day. As we all have favourite times of day to be creative – this can be before everyone gets up, when they are all asleep or maybe a time when you can be alone in the house. Don’t add to your stress by putting a word count on this time. It can be to write, of course, but also to plot, edit, note down new story ideas or even read some research.
Enter a contest. This idea will either spur you on or not. To create something new can be a good way to engage your Muse. Even if you decide not to submit your work, it is a great way to spark your creativity.
Writing prompts are also a great way to refresh the writing brain. There are a lot of sites and books available on the internet. Try a few, whether they are images, word collections or story starters. You never know where they might take you. Again my local writing group has prompts every Saturday, if you want to try. Link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/our-blog
What have you found to help your writing during COVID19?
Fettle – definition: a state or condition of fitness or good health; good state of mind; wholeness of spirits.
To be in fine fettle you must be healthy in mind and body. In this day and age there is a multitude of regimes to choose from to achieve this ‘modern’ goal of healthiness. Many practice yoga of one type or another while others believe the ‘burn’ is the way to go.
Whether you believe inner strength and gentle movement is best or pounding on the pavement or gym machines – using your body ensures it is supple and strong.
Which methods do you use?
A long walk in the fresh air, a refreshing swim or hard work in the garden as also great ways of keeping fit. They are also, in the most part, free!
Do you feel financial investment in your health is a good thing? Are gym fees and accessories a surefire way of keeping you on your path or do they become forgotten in the bottom of the cupboard?
Spry is certainly not a word you could use for me in the last couple of months! My back problems are almost over but it has been very difficult. Initially, sitting, standing or even lying down were equally painful. There was no position I could place myself in that didn’t hurt. This experience has brought home the swiftness of incapacity. Our health is paramount and something most of us take for granted until we don’t have it.
Without my wonderful daughter’s assistance, I have no idea how I would have coped. She is 17 going on 30! She only received her learner’s licence a few days prior to my back injury so gone was the option of gradually getting used to driving. We had planned for a few weeks of driving in rural areas and then onto the local roads within Sherwood Park. However, she was plunged into the deep end with rush hour traffic and highway driving. You would have thought she was a seasoned driver, taking everything in her stride.
The result of this painful condition and its consequences has brought home the importance of looking after myself. I have always cared for everyone else, forging on through illness’ and tiredness for them. I now realize it is not selfish to take time for one’s own health. At the moment I have no idea what form this new health conscious Mandy will take but it will be interesting. At least I can walk again, albeit short distances but gradually I can build it up again.