Starting a new writing project is exciting. You had the idea, planned the chapters, and the time for writing has come. When I’m working on a book I write for hours, think about revisions constantly, and even revise in my sleep. If I don’t monitor myself, however, I can become obsessed with writing. I work longer than I should, get behind on household tasks, have an aching back, and tired, gritty eyes.
None of these things foster writing. While I’m writing I think of my disabled husband and my caregiving duties. Although I take good care of him, sometimes I don’t take good care of myself. To be productive, writers need to care for their physical and emotional selves. Self-care can prevent debilitating colds, long-term illness, and burn-out. Here are some suggestions for you.
Adjust your chair. Mayo Clinic, in its article, “Office Ergonomics: Your How-To Guide, says your knees should be about level with your hips when sitting in a computer chair. My chair is comfortable, but it doesn’t support my lower back, so I use a small beanbag pillow. I bought the travel pillow from an airport shop and it’s a useful thing to have.
Use a foot rest. Your feet may not reach the floor if you are a short person. The solution is to rest your feet on a small stool or stack of books. Usually my feet are flat on the floor. Still, after I’ve been working a long time, I worry about the veins in my legs, and stretch my legs out straight, and rest them on a stool beneath my computer desk.
Get moving. Short breaks are surprisingly effective. I get up every half hour, do some stretches, and walk around the room. You may do this or walk in place. Desk exercises are pictured in the article, “Deskercise! 33 Smart Ways to Exercise at Work,” on the Greatest website. It describes stationary jogging, squats, leaning your back against a wall, chair exercises, and more. Choose some exercises and do them regularly.
Eat healthy snacks. The calories in snack foods add up quickly. In fact,they may equal a total meal. Limit your sweet and salty snacks. You’ll find more ideas in “10 Healthy Office Snacks to Eat at Your Desk,” by Leyla Shamayeva, on the Calorie Count website. It recommends cereal cups, nuts, whole wheat crackers, peanut butter, dried fruits, and sealed fruit cups in water. Technically, water isn’t a snack, but it’s wise to keep bottled water on hand. “Sip throughout the day and watch your productivity and mood improve,” the author writes.
Aim for eight hours of sleep. Even if you’re a “night owl” you need to get enough rest. Try to go to bed at the same time each night. Lower the temperature in your bedroom to promote sleep. Avoid big projects and upsetting television programming before bedtime because they can keep you awake. A body pillow may help you to sleep more comfortably.
Nurture your spirit. I’m a health and wellness writer and when I bog down it usually is due to lack of information. Searching for additional information can be tedious. Instead of doing the research immediately, I call time out and renew my spirit with poetry (I love Robert Frost), or read a magazine article, or look at photos on a royalty-free website. Fifteen minutes later, I’m energized and ready to get back to work.
These tips will help you stay energized and ready for writing.
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 37 years and is the author of 34 books. Her latest releases are Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life after Loss and Help! I’m Raising My Grandkids. Watch for her forthcoming books, The Family Caregiver’s Guide and Affirmations for Family Caregivers, slated for fall 2015 release. Visit Hodgson’s website to learn more about this busy author and grandmother.