I wasn’t going to do this. I was not going to write a “health and fitness for writers” article. Yet every time I tried to write, my shoulder tensed. My right arm throbbed. It seemed as if I could feel all the veins and tendons moving. It’s hot, I’m miserable, I want to throw up, and I’m crashing hard. Why? Because of poor life choices. I ultimately could sit and write a bunch, the ideas are unlimited, but there are a few really important health issues I’m ignoring, and those are slowing me down.
1) Write at the appropriate level
This isn’t your age or audience’s reading level. Your elbows are supposed to be dropped comfortably at your side, bent at a 90 degree angle. The screen should be eye level. Laptops make that impossible. My current real issue is my arms are up higher, causing pain in my shoulders. My forearms are angled higher than a 90 degree angle, resting on the table, which is creating pressure. Whoever created my office desk was an administrator of torture.
2) Get a nice chair
At home I literally have the perfect set up. The chair is firm, the right height to the desk, and it keeps my back straight. I inevitably write at my coffee table while on the couch, where I have to sit on the edge with my back curved. You should be able to sit flat against the back of your chair, you should not feel like it’s trying to eat you. I try to convince myself I’m at least doing a core work out.
3) Eat healthy foods
I’ve been eating fast food. There comes an age where your body says, “You can’t eat that.” I am just crossing that threshold, and I keep pretending it didn’t say anything last week. I know a lot of us survive on energy drinks, coffee, and alcohol. We eat munchies because it doesn’t take 20 minutes to cook. Sometimes take that 20 minutes. Make a real meal. Use fruits and veggies as the snacks. Drink tea. Tea can both be calming, give energy, and even increase mental acuity if you are imbibing the right brews. You can obviously indulge from time to time, but a lot of what we use as writers for quick food or drink fixes end up causing us to crash hard, making us lose focus.
4) Control your environment
I sit here in humid, hot weather, wondering if my computer will melt. The computer isn’t the only heat sensitive piece of equipment involved in writing. You are as well! Try to keep the temperature comfortable. Too warm will make you uncomfortable and sluggish. Your ideas can get slow and you really just want to run around streaking in a freezer. At least I do. There’s no such thing as too cold for me. I’m not sure what I can suggest to help you out there.
5) Get physical
Physical activity is important. This doesn’t require you to go all out, but take a walk, play in a pool, and definitely stretch. When writing, most people are curled up in themselves, causing the pectorals and shoulders to tighten up. When walking through a threshold, grab hold of both sides of the door frame and lean forward, while keeping your feet at the threshold. Hold it for a couple seconds before walking through, and you will start to loosen up your chest, which is shriveling up as I write this. Also stretch your neck from time to time to try getting out or loosening kinks. For physical activity, I like to swim. There’s a chance for bikini glad girls who haven’t tried to lap swim before, attractive lifeguards, and some really interesting sights. You don’t need cardio or a hard workout, but I find it allows my mind to focus better, as well as letting me get to sleep easier. Speaking of sleep….
Sleep is important. From what I can tell, somewhere between six to nine hours is ideal, though it depends on the person. I can’t seem to find studies which agree with each other, and they change every other week. I’m guessing they are sort of like text books: if you keep changing small details, people keep paying for new information. When I work out, I find a good strong six to seven hours is perfect. Best ways to fall asleep consist of not looking at digital screens before bed, try reading or some other wind down activity, do not do work in your bedroom, no horror movies (I will be up all night figuring out how to kill that sucker), drink tea, eat turkey, drink warm milk, or any number of other solutions that seem to work for you. Try to get your body so it wakes up naturally at least once a week. When I sleep in on Saturday and get ten hours, I know I’ve been depriving myself during the week, and I try to fix it. When I sleep six hours, the dump truck came early.
There is more to life than writing. There are also other influences on how well you write, or even how often you’re capable. Take care of your body and mind, and you’ll do just fine.