As writers, sometimes we are stuck in a chair, sitting at a desk for hours at a time. And whether we realize or not, it takes a toll on our bodies.
Some of you may know that I’ve been dealing with some health issues lately. Between fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis, listening to my body and taking care of myself has become more important than ever. And I’ve learned some important lessons that I want to share with you all. Even if you are the perfect specimen of health, they can help you feel better – which helps you write better, too.
People underestimate the importance of good ol’ H2O. But remember our bodies are 60% water, so if we don’t ingest enough, we can literally start to dry up. Water can do anything from lubricating your joints to eliminating waste. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to drink a half an ounce of water for every pound you weigh.
Not a water fan? Add some lemon or ginger, or try herbal tea instead!
Fuel your body and your brain
Just like your body needs water, it needs food as well. But not just any food: sugary snacks or empty calories can hurt instead of help. So instead of a donut or a bag of chips, try some blueberries, edamame or nuts instead. They’ll keep you full longer and boost your brain function.
Sitting in any same spot for hours on end can cramp up your muscles and stiffen your joints. Add in the stress and the awkward position of your neck and shoulders, and you’ve got knots for days. But that’s nothing a simple stretch can’t help.
Here are a few great stretches you can do at your desk!
Take a quick walk
While stretching is better than nothing, it’s still good to get up and move around every hour. It gets your blood pumping to your brain, boosts your metabolism and improves your mood. It can be around the house, around the block or around the office. Just get up and move!
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Meditating takes practice, and most people assume it takes a longgg time. But studies show that even a two to three minute meditation session can work wonders.
Headspace is a great app with shorter options.
Now I know what you are thinking. How on Earth do you remember to do all of these things? That’s what timers are for! For example, I set a timer to remind myself to grab a snack every three hours, to drink a glass of water every hour and a half, and to get up and walk around every hour.
If you have a smart watch or fitness tracker, some timers are already integrated into the function and you can download other apps to help.
Use a blue light filter
So this is a magical new thing I just discovered. Your computer screen emits something called blue light that can be potentially damaging to your eyes. Who knew? Luckily you can get a blue light screen for your phone or computer. Or even blue light blocking glasses to protect your eyes!
Invest in a good chair
As a sufferer of back pain, chairs can make or – literally – break your back. There are several different types of ergonomic chairs, knee chairs, arm chairs. It may take some experimenting to find what works best for you, but it’s the single most important part of your workspace. If you can’t afford a new chair, try a pillow behind your back for a little lumbar support.
Line up your workspace
Believe it or not, working comfortably is all about angles and posture. Just remember ninety degrees:
- Your feet should be able to rest on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-120 degree angle.
- Your thighs should be horizontal with a ninety degree bend at the hips.
- Your elbows should be bent at a 90-120 degree angle with straight wrists and relaxed shoulders.
If they’re not, fiddle with your chair settings, place a stool under your feet or put a pillow behind your back to get to the right position.
Taking care of your body is the most important thing you can do for your life and your writing. And now that just got easier.