As some of you know, I’m going through some health issues, and though I’m not really open about what those issues are, the struggles have definitely caused me to appreciate good health a lot more. I also pay more attention to health now, so I thought I’d write up a list of health issues writers should look out for. Of course, everyone should look out for a variety of issues, but here’s a specific list of health issues that affect writers.
1. Get your eyes checked
Don’t be like me and wait 26 years to find out your nearsighted. Seriously, I got my first pair of glasses in March, and my life is so different now. My headaches have all but disappeared. I used to get these terrible, debilitating migraines, especially on editing days. Turns out this was mainly happening because one of my eyes is much worse than my other one, and it was causing my eyes to overcompensate, so BAM. Headaches. Granted, I know headaches happen for a variety of reasons, and there are more reasons to get your eyes checked than headaches, but if you spend a lot of time reading, it’s good to keep those eyeballs as healthy as possible.
Here’s some extra tips:
- Get great eye drops.
- Take care of allergies.
- Make sure to look away from the computer screen if working long hours.
2. Check your desk posture
Writers often sit for long hours at a desk typing away at a computer. Make sure your desk posture is healthy, and even if it is, be conscious about checking in as often as possible. If you don’t know what healthy desk posture looks like, here’s a place to start. Having a healthy writing environment in essential for productivity and happiness. This might mean a bigger computer screen, more space, better lighting, or cute cat memes taped to the wall.
- Get familiar with stretches that specifically help those who have to sit at a desk a lot.
- Have a timer that reminds you of breaks for stretches and looking away from the screen. Oh! And snacks. Don’t forget snacks.
- Joint support: Lots of writers develop carpal tunnel and tennis elbow for a reason. We use our hands A LOT. In fact, I have early on-set carpal tunnel syndrome, and let me tell you, it sucks. But I have wrist supports and know therapeutic stretches that help. Take care of those precious hands. They have worlds to write down!
- Yoga! So I’m in love with yoga, but if you are like me, you might not have the time or funds to sign up for a class. The best part about yoga? You don’t have to. I recommend the Down Dog app. It’s been a lifesaver for me. It’s completely free, has lots of settings/options, and you can do it right from home. I had never taken a single class before using this app, and it was super easy to use.
3. Mental Health
A lot of artists get their inspiration from dark places, and then they share it with the world, inviting critique and rejection from strangers into a very personal place, so it comes as no surprise that many writers struggle with mental health throughout their life. Don’t get burnt out. Don’t let rejections destroy your dreams. Take breaks. Breathe. One thing that has always helped me is reminding myself why I write in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in publication goals, but it’s important to remember that I love writing at the end of the day. If everything becomes too much, I still have writing for myself. In retrospect, I think I write a lot about mental health right here on this blog. It might not be labeled that way, but if I scroll back, I find lots of articles that are discussing emotional well being, so here’s some other tips:
- The Lonely Writer: Writing can get lonely. Be sure to reach out to others.
- How to Avoid Writer Burnout: Exhausted? Still trying to write through it? Maybe you shouldn’t.
- Feeling Down About Writing? Here’s How To Write Again. A collection of tips from Clean Teen Publishing authors.
- The Artist’s Guilt: Spending a lot of time writing can cause us to miss out on family or friend time, and this can make us feel really, really guilty. Here’s how to cope.
In the end…
Health is a personal issue, and it’s important to look out for your overall well being, but I hope this gives a place for writers to start if they want to be healthier about writing. I’ve totally allowed my writing to get unhealthy, either by getting too wrapped up emotionally over a rejection or forgetting to drink more water (rather than another cup of coffee). There’s a reason that artists are the only people who defy Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.We often put art above all else, and it takes conscious effort to put health first. I know I could be better at it, so if anything else, this is a nice little reminder for myself, but I hope it helped you too!
Feel free to share your health tips!
18 thoughts on “A Writer’s Health + Tips”
Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
Check out this great post from Shannon A. Thompson’s blog on the topic of a writer’s health along with some helpful tips.
Thank you for sharing, Don!
Well said. Stretching is really important for me–sitting with dogs positions me in many awkward poses.
Stretching is awesome! Glad you enjoyed.
This is wonderful advice for all of us–thank you for the reminders. I, too, tend to get too caught up in promoting my work and forget to enjoy the writing. I hope you continue to do well.
Thank you! Promotion is easy to get lost in. So glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Wonderful tips. Thanks for sharing! The older I get, the more I have to do. Must take eye drops everyday now, among special cleanser and strong eyeglasses.
Glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing your story too!
Hugs! Hoping things get better!
Thank you! Much appreciated.
Great tips. Thanks for sharing.
So glad you liked them! Thank you for reading and commenting.
My health tip for writers is to walk 30 to 60 minutes a day (all at once or in 10-15 chunks). Doesn’t have to be far, difficult or sweaty, just walk around the block or whatever. It helps rest the eyes, relives the body’s stress of being at a desk and gives your mind a mental break. I often find that creativity or the solution to a writing problem is found when I am walking and have my hands off the keyboard.
That is an AWESOME tip. Fresh air and movement helps the mind. Thank you for the reminder!
Shannon, this is great, thanks for writing it. Maintaining a good posture is probably my biggest difficulty, at least physically; and I appreciate the links to resources on the common mental obstacles to writing. Keeping a journal is another practice I used to rely upon as a way of processing my thoughts and ideas, and is something I’ve been meaning to take up again. Evidently it was a key habit for Steinbeck: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/02/john-steinbeck-working-days/.
Great suggestions – very practical too – especially the eye drops!
Yoga with Adriene on Youtube is a pretty great resource! Very down to earth and easy to follow, and chances are, yoga for what you’re looking for! (Back pain, flexibility, core workout, etc)
I’ve had glasses since I was about 6, and working a desk job really doesn’t help. I’m with you with the headaches, plus tense shoulders and bad posture? Terrible combo. 😐
Thanks for sharing these tips!