Self-care. It’s a practice that some people are GREAT at and others struggle with. I’m in the latter camp. I’m one of those people who feels really guilty about resting. I think a lot of writers are work-a-holics–even when they’re not producing much. As a writer, it is ESSENTIAL that we take stock of where our minds // hearts // bodies are and put on the breaks when we need to. There are generic ways in which we, as writers, can engage in self-care, but what are some writer-specific ways?

>> Rest your HANDS.— Our typing-callused fingers take a beating each day. So do our wrists, nails, and joints. When you’re feeling exhausted, tired, stressed…lay your hands still in your lap and LEAVE THEM ALONE. These babies are your livelihood! Let them REST.

>> Unplug.— This one is hard–especially when you’ve just published and you are in the marketing gauntlet. Still, at some point each day, say “goodbye” to social media and the interwebs. Either turn off your computer, or purpose to avoid it for the rest of the evening. Good rule of thumb? Keep regular work-hours, more or less. Set a specific time each day to be “on” and when you’re done with that time? Be “off”.

>> Read.— Not for the job. Read a book for fun. Pick up a favorite author or beloved novel and snuggle up in a comfy, fluffy chair and get lost in someone else’s world for a while. Turn off the “writer” and just read. Don’t pay attention to typos, character and plot constructs. Just enjoy.

>> Pursue other hobbies.— For me, it’s martial arts, video games, drawing, and tv shows//movies. When I’m feeling burnt out, tired, exhausted, or generally “down”, I love to just veg in front of the tv and enjoy a show. If I’m feeling a little bit more energetic, I’ll fire up Skyrim or some other game.

>> Pay attention to “real” life.— Most writers are absorbed in the fictional worlds we create, love, or admire. Even nonfiction writers can be absorbed in the life of the written word. It is important that we take time to get out in nature and walk. We should spend time with breathing people every once and a while, too. Now, it if is real life that has you “down” or burnt out, feel free to indulge in a tiny bit of escapism, but be sure to hang in there and face your problems instead of running from them.

Feeling down today? It’s alright. We all have those days. Even if you’re not a writer, you know what we mean. Practice these writerly self-care tips and if you don’t feel better, find something that works for you! How do you care for yourself when you’re feeling a bit low? 

 

Practicing Self-Care as a Writer
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  • Kelli

    Love this post! Self care = SO important!

    Being a nurse, I have different self care needs… Taking care of back and feet for example. That back strain that comes from pushing stretchers, moving patients and bending in awkward positions to get JUST the right angle to insert that IV? That requires an occasional chiropractor appointment and well-placed ice packs during my day off. And those feet? They need the extra arch support of fresh tennis shoes for running from room to room for 12 hours. Not to mention lotion for over-washed hands.

    I think the best self care advice is just simply PAY ATTENTION. Your body, mind and spirit will give you signals. You know when you’re getting burnt out. But how many of us just keep going with no change in behavior, watching ourselves spiral into exhaustion and burnout? If you notice that you are reaching your limit, RE-ADJUST. Take time off. Rest. Tell your family or a friend that you need their assistance. Tell your husband you need to go on a date.

    Here’s easy steps for the burned-out person to deal with burn-out:
    1) Acknowledge the burn-out. Admit it to yourself. (“I feel burned out and exhausted.”)
    2) Assess the primary source of the burn-out. What’s the biggest causative factor? (“Why do I feel burned out and exhausted?”)
    3) Diagnose: state the situation to yourself. (e.g. “I am experiencing exhaustion due to working overtime on night shift.”)
    4) Plan. How will you change your behavior to address this situation? (“I will request a weekend off to spend time with my husband.”)
    5) Implement. (“I took time off and I am going to spend the night at a hotel with my husband this weekend.”)
    6) Evaluate. (“How do I feel post-vacation? Am I refreshed or still burned out?”)
    7) Repeat Steps 1-6 as necessary, until burn-out is successfully addressed.

    • Thank you for those EXCELLENT tips and steps, Kelli! I’m so pleased to have a nurse as a friend. You guys know EXACTLY how to approach most of life’s stressful situations! 😉

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