Oct 27, 2020
6 mins read
A Healthy Lifestyle makes Better Writers
I am often saying that writers and artists in general, are not always the best at looking after themselves. We agonize over our work, our productivity or lack thereof, and we all too often wonder if the work we produce is well, good enough?
I suppose it could be said, that this is all part of a writer's baggage. As much a part of the writer's toolkit as the laptop or the pen, or the paper that is scribbled upon during a writer's day.
Now, if you're anything like me, you will know that this writing business is physical stuff. Sitting down, churning out a 100,000 words can be enough to daunt the most dedicated among the membership of your local gym.
Sitting is actually quite draining in and of itself. As far as sitting goes we writers are the Olympians; and here's the thing....It hurts our productivity by draining our vitality, and frankly... it is slowly killing us.
Recent studies have shown that people who sit for more than six hours a day are nearly 20% more likely to to develop diabetes, heart disease, and or become obese and as a consequence reduce their life expectancy by a similar percentage.
Here are a few things that I have found to be helpful in keeping healthy as a writer...maybe you will too....
Mindfulness....by focusing on the breath as it enters and leaves the body, we are able to discover stillness and learn how to be present in the moment called 'Now'. Gradually we develop the ability to be more aware of the beauty that surrounds us in every moment.
The length of time spent will vary with each practitioner from 5 minutes here and there to an hour and sometimes even longer, it is really up to you. The practice imparts numerous health benefits, not least of which are inner peace, calm, and the enhancement of our creative capacities.
Write in Increments... Instead of doing prolonged sessions at our desks, try writing incrementally. However long that you find works best for you is fine. Recent research shows that this has a beneficial impact on our productivity as well as our health.
Taking regular breaks in our writing day gives us increased opportunities to get up and move around, to stretch, or go for a walk, to be in short, more active. We return to our work refreshed and invigorated ready for another time limited session.
Benefits have been shown to include increased productivity, improved circulation, reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and more, whilst increasing our creativity and yes, our longevity as well.
The 5 Tibetan Rites. These are a collection of exercises which take around 15-20 minutes to complete and which are as gentle as they are beneficial. Developed originally by Tibetan Monks they are the original exercises from which the practice of what we call 'Yoga' originates.
The 5 Tibetan rites are associated with longevity, flexibility, energy, vigor, and well being. Google the exercises and try them for yourself...
Suitable for all ages, easy to do, the benefits are real, and long lasting.
I used to take regular anti-inflammatory medication for joint pain, and the doctors told me I had zero cartilage in my right knee and not much more in the left one. I used to walk with a stick for safety, and I felt around 120yrs + on my bad days. Now I have no stick, walk every day, no pain, so no need for pain killers of any kind. Feel young for my age and some folks say I look it. Do I practice The 5 Tibetans....You betcha!
Walking out in the fresh air whatever the weather.......In the countryside if you can, or the biggest park you can find if you live in a town. Yes, you can take the dog.
The health benefits of walking in the fresh air are well documented and include....better cardio vascular health, stronger muscle tone, increased longevity,the increased oxygenation improves our thought processes, creativity, helps to reduce stress and so much more.
So don't fight it, whatever it takes, get yourself out there....20 minutes is enough to make a difference and you can always double it or, if it is a beautiful day and you feel like an evening stroll, then by all means, go for three.
Reading in your favorite genre for pleasure is a great way to relax, unwind, and is especially important for us writers. Ever since Stephen King told the world that writers....write a lot and read a lot...I imagine that we have all been doing so much more of it...I know I have.
The health benefits of reading are more extensive that at first one might imagine.....Mental stimulation, brain stimulation, increased vocabulary, stress reduction, improved analytical thinking, improving focus and our ability to concentrate, improving our creativity, expanding horizons, acquisition of knowledge, improving our writing skills, as well as evoking a sense of calm and tranquility to mention but a few.
Rest. Giving yourself permission to rest when you need to is important. When we rest our bodies rejuvenate and heal, and so many of the health benefits that we have already mentioned occur while we rest as well.
Don't be fooled into thinking that taking a nap when you feel the need is somehow a cop out...far from it. You are simply tuning in to what your body needs and you will be back to continue working soon enough feeling refreshed and raring to go.
It is worth remembering that while you may be resting, your subconscious will be working away getting ready with a host of those 'Aha' moments, to help you carry your work forward when you are refreshed again.
Don't be an Island...No man (or woman) is, remember? Get out and about...meet people friends and strangers, have fun, laugh a lot, go out to dinner....immerse yourself in a new culture.....and occasionally, yes... have a little too much wine.
Perhaps even make a few new contacts...you know....that marketing bit, that we writers are supposed to be working on? Yeah...Right.
I can hear you in the back row aching to point out that there is struggle enough finding the time to write at all in this 'oh so busy' world. I know what you mean, I do, and I sympathize.
This isn't about finding the time to write. I will cover that worthy subject in another post, this is about you...the person of the writer...remembering to take good care of you...because you're worth it as the ad' says, you really are. You will write better, be more productive, and happier if you do. Oh and you could possibly add as much as another 15yrs-20 yrs to your life expectancy too.
I realize that for some of you all this may sound a bit radical, even downright revolutionary....I make no apology. I realize too that you really have no reason to trust a word that I say.
Fair enough, it really is up to you. I will promise you this. If you do decide to try one, several or even all of these suggestions, then the benefits will be tangible, significant, and entirely yours.
So until next time...Take good care of yourselves and Happy Writing.