Wellness is a hot topic in the media these days. Well, it has really been a hot topic forever. Who doesn’t want to be healthy, strong, and vibrant? I charge you to find one person that would rather be tired, unfit, and sedentary. While people might make choices that lead them to be tired, unfit, and sedentary, most folks don’t want to be that way forever. Most people I know are trying to live a healthy lifestyle. If they’re not, they would like to be living one. I, personally, have had a very long wellness journey. When I was 18, I started my healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, I was so rigid with my food “rules” that I ended up living an unbalanced wellness journey. When I was 19, I knew I needed to find a way to live healthfully and well in a balanced manner. People, that is FAR harder than it looks. Believe it or not, being balanced with diet and exercise is WAY harder than being an extremist about everything that goes into your mouth.
After nearly 6 years of trying to find the “sweet spot” for my own personal wellness, I am still working on finding the right balance. That’s alright, though. We’re not looking for an end here. We’re looking for a sustainable, enjoyable, and worthwhile journey. If you’d like to get fit and maybe slim down a bit, there are about a bazillion methods available to you. But if you want my advice? Don’t approach your wellness journey with a magic number on the scale in mind. It won’t help you. You’ll end up getting frustrated and upset with yourself when things look tough. Instead, approach wellness from the perspective of, “My body is a magnificent machine that needs the best care and maintenance possible.” Work to be healthy, not “skinny”.
All of that being said, what does wellness have to do with writing you might ask? PLENTY. Let me tell you why.
/1/ Writers sit. A LOT. — Most writers that I know of do not stand up when they’re working on their latest novel. They’re sitting at a desk, plinking away at the keys. While this might be an excellent workout for our fine motor skills and our finger muscles, the rest of our bodies are at rest and chillin’ in a chair.
/2/ Writers need lots of brain power. — Our brains thrive when we are filling our bodies with good food. But as important as food is for the brain, exercise is just as important! Writers use SO much brain power, folks. We are constantly trying to invent whole worlds, characters, stories, and settings within our minds. It’s a lot of work, despite what people might think. Often, we can become mentally exhausted if we’re not treating our brains and our bodies properly.
/3/ Writers need breaks. — Sitting at a desk for hours at a time, forcing our minds to work really hard, can take a toll on the body. Writers need to take mini-breaks and maybe a long break every now and again throughout their workday.
/4/ Writers can become stressed easily. — For writers, artists, musicians, etc., our work is our passion. Some writers liken their books to being similar to children. When you have that much of a personal stake in your job, it is easy to become very close to it in an emotional way. Because of that, it is easy for writers to become stressed when things are getting overly busy or their books aren’t selling as well as they’d like. If you’re an author, you’ll know just how much work is involved in writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your own book.
/5/ Writers work long hours. — Many writers have a day job in addition to their writing schedules. Writers that work from home might also have added responsibilities during the day. For instance, I do work full-time from home, but I don’t just write my novels. I also work for the amazing graphic design company, Maiedae. I split up my day into different working-blocks so that I can get it all done, but some days, I have to work nights to accomplish everything.
Alright, so you believe writers need to be healthy in order to produce their best work. What can writers do to accomplish that?
/1/ Move every day. — Because writers sit so often, it is of paramount importance that they exercise EVERY DAY. Now, this exercise doesn’t have to be marathon training. Go for a twenty minute walk. Stand up and stretch in between chapters. If you have a dog, you may already have this part down. I would challenge you, though, to find some sort of extra exercise that you enjoy and would do anyway even if it wasn’t exercise. I love martial arts and dance. Four times a week (unless I have something major come up or am nursing an injury), I attend Taekwondo and Hapkido classes. At home, I love to walk, hike, or do Dance Dance Revolution (don’t judge…that game can torch some serious calories and is FUN). Find a type of exercise you love to do and DO it. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. If you don’t want to sit in a chair all day, find a stability ball and switch it for your chair every now and then. I typically switch to a stability ball in the afternoon when I’m getting antsy and my tush is hurting from my
evil office chair.
/2/ Try to eat more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Limit treats and excessive sugars to the weekend. — I’m sure you’ve heard this advice repeated ad nauseam, but my advice might have a different take. Instead of worrying about what diet to go on or what food groups to completely eliminate, concentrate instead on filling your body with good things. Make a goal of having veggies at every lunch and dinner instead of saying, “I’ll never eat bad food again.” You will. I promise you. And you should, in moderation. Instead of giving up treats forever, save your treat foods for the weekend. Keep a food log. I’m a bit biased, but I LOVE using My Fitness Pal as my food diary. It tells me how many calories I’ve eaten and also lets me know if I’ve gotten enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats during the day. Food diaries are great for accountability.
/3/ Use your breaks for movement. — Since you need to take breaks while writing anyway, why not use your break to take a quick walk around your yard or street? If it’s rainy out, put on a fun pop song and have a private dance party for a minute or two. I’m TOTALLY guilty of that last one. My favorite “Private Office Dance Party” tunes are usually K-POP songs like “Fantastic Baby” by BIGBANG. Find some way to take mini-movement breaks throughout your workday.
/4/ Pay attention to your emotional and spiritual health. — Because writers can become stressed so easily, it is important for them to take care of their hearts and spirits. As a Christian, the most important part of my health is spiritual. When I’m stressed, I try to find quite moments to give thanks for the blessings God has given me and to pray about what’s concerning me. When I’m not stressed, I still need to do those things. I need to read the Bible and fellowship with other believers. These things can help tremendously to decrease stress in volatile situations. Emotionally, I try to “love on myself” by taking long bubble baths with a good book, watching a fun TV show, enjoying a date with my hubby, or just relaxing. Take time to care for yourself. Everyone gets stressed. It is important to acknowledge what’s causing you stress, put it out of your mind, and just chill for a while.
/5/ Make time for family, fun, and friends. — It’s easy to work long hours and just put other commitments, relationships, and duties out of our minds, but we shouldn’t do that. Family, fun, and friends are SO important. If you’ve got to work a lot during a week, schedule time to be with your family. Make activities like dinner a sacred family place where you stop working and dedicate an hour or two to loving on your family. Have fun. If you’ve got a long night of work ahead, put on happy music, or watch a movie while you finalize a project. Schedule a coffee or lunch date with a buddy. If you don’t make time to see your loved ones, it won’t happen. Don’t let that be an excuse. Find time to enjoy your community.
There you have it, ladies and gents! This is my first post in my new series “Wellness for Writers”. My plan is to do one wellness article a week. We’ll see how well I do next Tuesday!
What are some of the ways you try to stay healthy?? I’d love to hear! Comment!