Do you realize that writing is seen as one of the most dangerous professions around?
Because you write for a living, you likely spend several hours a day sitting and staring at your computer while working. Maybe you also enjoy snacking on whatever you can lay your hands on, while drinking an endless supply of coffee, all day long.
And before you know it, a whole day is gone, and you only got up when you had to go to the bathroom.
At night, you collapse on your bed, and sleep for just four to six hours, only to wake up and repeat the same cycle all over again. And now, you’re complaining of headaches, body pain, fatigue, and other symptoms of poor health, all the time.
Want to hear the truth? You’re living a sedentary life.
This is dangerous because a sedentary life increases your chances of developing some chronic health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
But the good news is that you have a choice.
Just by making a few changes in your lifestyle, you’ll be amazed how quickly your overall health can improve. Here are eight effective ways for you to improve your health as a professional writer.
Because very little energy is required to stay on your seat, sitting down for hours at a time is not good for you.
Research shows that people who sit down for extended periods of time are more likely to develop serious health conditions, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, increased waistline, and so on.
Apart from sitting down to write and work, add the amount of time you sit down to drive a car, watch television, play games, read, and eat, and you’ll discover that you spend the better part of your day on your seat.
For your health to improve as a professional writer, one key thing you must do daily is to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down.
But how can you do that?
It’s not so difficult. Instead of being glued to your chair for hours at a time:
When you spend your working hours and most of the rest of your day, every day, consciously alternating between sitting and moving around, not only will you reduce the time you spend in a chair, you’ll also become more physically active and, as a result, improve your health.
You probably write using a computer, which means you’re staring at computer screens for hours every day. To add to that, it’s also likely you carry out a lot of leisure activities by staring at other digital devices, like your tablet, smartphone, or television, and so on.
According to The Vision Council, eyestrain is the discomfort experienced when some people spend more than two hours staring at screens. Though it may vary from one person to another, symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, burning eyes, watery eyes, neck pain, and shoulder pain.
To improve your health and avoid all the inconveniences associated with eyestrain, it’s in your best interest to take preventive steps, such as these:
By putting all these steps into practice, you’ll reduce your risk of developing eyestrain, improve your health, and most likely, boost your productivity as a writer.
Did you know that having poor posture while sitting or standing can have a negative effect on your health?
Most people who work with a computer are guilty of sitting hunched over. This posture can give you back and neck pain, and it can also lead to permanent damage in the long term if not corrected quickly.
Other health challenges that may arise as a result of poor posture include shoulder pain, fatigue, breathing problems, headaches, poor circulation, hand and wrist pain, and negative mood.
To help you maintain good posture and improve your health, here are a few tips:
Having the right posture at all times can help you escape all the health issues discussed above and also boost your health.
Another way to quickly improve your physical and mental health when you write for a living is to be choosy about what you eat and drink on a daily basis.
Consuming a diet rich in fast food and unhealthy drinks is bad for you because it boosts your risk of developing health challenges, like diabetes, obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, shortness of breath, acne, insulin resistance, headaches, and depression.
These unhealthy foods and drinks are readily available all around us and include foods that are made with or contain high amounts of sugar, refined vegetable oils, refined wheat, etc. Examples include margarine, ice cream, soda and other sugary drinks, white flour products like bread, cakes, cookies, and so on.
To improve your health and help your body and mind operate optimally, you should make it a habit to choose highly nutritious food and drinks that will nourish your body, such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, berries, seeds, nuts, legumes, brown rice, and so on.
Because we’re all different, it’s also important to study and understand the kinds of healthy foods that your body can tolerate without any negative side effects, like yeast allergy, lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, egg intolerance, and so on.
In addition, you should also:
At the end of the day, you are what you eat and drink on a daily basis, and this goes a long way to determine how healthy you’ll be, physically and mentally.
Making sure that you get enough sleep on a daily basis is another way you can improve your physical and mental health as a writer.
Even though some writers boast of being at their peak with very little sleep, at least seven hours of quality sleep every night is the general recommendation for our body and mind to perform optimally.
According to the Mayo Clinic, not getting enough sleep can have a negative effect on your mood, temperament, and ability to focus and concentrate, all of which can lower your productivity. It can also put you at a higher risk of developing health issues, like diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, depression, increased body pains, and low immunity, among others.
Various research also suggests that getting at least seven hours of sleep daily will:
With all these at the back of your mind, you should get enough sleep on a daily basis so that your physical and mental health can improve.
Because writing is not a physically active profession, another way to improve your health as a writer is by doing regular exercises as well as moving your body more often.
Exercising on a regular basis can help you live longer, boost your energy, reduce weight, sleep better, and improve your mood and also help you avoid diseases like diabetes, heart disease, depression, and different types of cancer.
Even when you can’t make it to the gym, there are lots of simple exercises you can do in the comfort of your home to meet your daily quota, such as the following:
A simple way to move your body more often, in addition to regular exercises, is to take frequent breaks whether you’re writing, or standing, or sitting, or doing something else. This helps you avoid being stuck in the same position for hours and goes a long way to boost your health.
When you habitually work long hours and your whole life revolves around writing, your physical and mental health can be affected badly enough to cause serious health problems, like fatigue, depression, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and heart problems. To add to all that, most likely, your relationship with your spouse, family, and friends can also suffer greatly.
But when you maintain a good balance between your work life and personal life, by reducing the time you work so you have time for other areas of your life, you can avoid all these health risks and also increase your productivity. In fact, research shows that people who have a life outside work are usually happy and satisfied with their work.
While nonwork activities can be different for each person, you can:
But with only 24 hours in a day, how can you make this happen?
According to some successful entrepreneurs, a method that has worked for them repeatedly is to block time in your daily work schedule for all those things you enjoy outside work just as you block time for your work activities. And then, keep to the schedule.
Bottom line, there’s more to life than writing and working all the time. Create time to enjoy other areas of life outside work and you will likely enjoy your work more. Remember, all work and no play not only makes you a dull writer, it’s also bad for your health.
Drawing up a daily work schedule in advance to guide your activities can go a long way toward improving your health.
Without it, you’ll probably wake up and spend some time trying to remember everything you need to do on that day. Because you’re human, it’s likely you will forget some things or even remember when it’s too late, and all that can stress you out and affect your health negatively.
But with a to-do list, you can take charge of your day in advance and hit the ground running as soon as you wake up. In addition, planning your daily schedule in advance can help you use your time more efficiently, prioritize important tasks, become more disciplined, live a healthier life, and increase your productivity.
To draw up a schedule that will boost your health, make a list of every important thing you need to do each day, and allot time to them, like running errands, doing chores, writing and working, exercising, taking breaks, eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, spending time with family, and so on.
For more ideas, here are some questions for you to answer:
Because you know the number of hours available to you every day, planning a daily work schedule in advance can help you make time for work and every other important area of your life without sacrificing your good health.
Being a busy professional writer is not an acceptable excuse for treating your health in a careless manner.
Working around the clock to finish that project or to meet that looming deadline, without taking your health into consideration, may be why you’re having all those aches and pains you keep complaining about.
You can choose to improve your health and become a healthier writer just by tweaking a few things in your lifestyle through these eight effective ways:
Lastly, remember to seek the opinion and advice of your doctor about everything you’re doing and intend to do to improve your health.
Sola Kehinde is a freelance content writer for hire with 10+ years of corporate business management experience. She helps businesses of all sizes create engaging blog posts, case studies, guides, tutorials and eBooks that attract and convert. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her drinking green tea, watching movies or curled up with a good book. Visit her writing portfolio here.