Now, stick with me before all of you groan and run off. *winks*
A lot of you know my struggles with my health that I’ve been battling since summer of 2019, and since getting my health on track, I’ve adopted some healthy habits that I feel like other writers should know about.
Here’s the thing…
- I wish someone had told me developing back and neck problems as a writer doesn’t have to be the norm.
- I wish someone had told me that bad headaches from looking at screens could be easily avoided with a few simple changes and tricks.
- I wish someone had told me Carpal Tunnel is going to happen at some point during your writing career but there are ways to combat it.
- I wish someone had given me tips for staying healthy sooner since a lot of writing involves sitting down for half of or even the whole day.
And that’s why I’m here! Because there’s no reason for writers (or anyone, really) to end up struggling with these things and thinking they have to just deal with it and live in pain forever and ever. You have options — some that include a little bit of an investment, but most that only involve some time and habit changing. (NOTE: I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to be. If you have worse symptoms or causes for concern, you should consult your primary doctor.)
How to Combat Back and Neck Problems:
- Pause every thirty minutes to an hour and do some light neck and back stretching. I have two websites here for you that teach you some super simple stretches that I incorporate on a daily basis: Neck Stretches and Back Stretches.
- Get a chair or a brace that forces you to sit up straight. A natural position, especially while writing, is to slouch, but more often than not your back and neck problems are a result of slouching all day instead of other reasons.
- Invest in a standing desk. Not only does this help you stand straight and not crick your neck or back weird, but it also improves circulation, so it’s a big win! I love my standing desk that my Hubby surprised me with last November. Just be aware that this is an investment, although how big of an investment is entirely up to you. My standing desk is electric, thus one of the more expensive ones. However, there are plenty of desks that are manually adjustable that you can find at furniture and warehouse stores. A great place to look for cheap options is Ikea!
How to Combat Headaches:
- Turn the brightness on your computer screen down. A simple fix, I know, but something that most people don’t think of. Just make sure that the brightness isn’t turned down so much that you’re straining your eyes just to see the words you’re typing onscreen. *winks*
- The Pomodoro Technique. This technique was recommended to me by Cherise Taylor, and it was instrumental to me early on with all of my headaches I’d get from being on my laptop. While incredibly helpful for productivity purposes, it’s also great for remembering to take short breaks to give your eyes a rest. You can read more about it HERE.
- Invest in some blue-light blocking glasses. The reason you get headaches from looking at your screen is because of the blue light that radiates from it. I plan on getting some for myself super soon. So, while I can’t say that I’ve used them and they’ve officially helped yet, my husband, who is on the computer eight hours a day for his job, has blue-light blocking glasses and says they work wonders. *nods*
How to Combat Carpal Tunnel:
- STRETCH!!! I cannot tell you how much stretching helped my Carpal Tunnel after I was first diagnosed with it. Even though my Carpal Tunnel is better now, I still try to do these stretches daily to make sure my wrists are all stretched out, and to prevent the Carpal Tunnel from coming back. You can check out some short and easy stretches HERE.
- Get cheap wrist braces. Sometimes all you can do is wear a brace to correct the initial pain and damage, and then once you do that, you can move on to stretches and other techniques of treatment. I would definitely recommend having wrist braces on hand, especially for unexpected days. Trust me, they happen.
- Watch your diet. I know, I know, it’s the dreaded d-word! But Carpal Tunnel is literally a product of inflammation, and more often than not it’s a product of what you’re eating. I had food sensitivities that I wasn’t even aware I had, and the moment I cut back on those particular foods, my Carpal Tunnel all but went away. I rarely have flare-ups now, and I haven’t had to wear a brace since last summer. It’s something to think about.
General Health Tips:
- I already mentioned the standing desk in the Back/Neck Problems section, but I want to mention it again here. It was well worth the investment on our end, and I cannot recommend getting one enough. Sitting all day, every day results in poor circulation, so investing in a standing desk can help you combat all the future issues that would arise due to that.
- Drink water before your coffee or tea or cocoa fix. I’m a huge advocate of drinking tea or coffee while writing — it’s what I do! But I’ve found that telling myself, “You can’t have coffee/tea/whatever until you have a full water bottle” really encourages me to get my water in. And speaking of, consider adding essential oil drops or infuse fruits and veggies in your water. My personal favorite is lemon water because lemon helps with a variety of things, such as skin clarity, digestion, and immunity boost. Different fruits and veggies or essential oil drops will provide other health benefits that will help you on your own personal health journey. 🙂
- Take a break as often as you can. I don’t mean procrastinate, but take the time to stand up and move around, stretch, or just give your eyes a break from looking at your screen. What I like to do during this time is either get in a quick chapter of reading or I’ll do some quick cleaning like the dishes or putting a load of laundry in the wash. Still being productive, but it gives you a moment to relax.
- Take a physical lunch break. All too often I’ve made lunch and just sat back down at my desk to work. If you take a lunch break, it’ll give you another quick and easy break. If nothing else, it will help with procrastination. You’re allowed to break while you eat, and as soon as you’re done, you can get back at it.
- Invest in a good desk chair if you’re going to be sitting down. A great desk chair will help you sit up straight and prevent further back and neck problems.
- Have healthy snacks available to grab when you need them instead of unhealthy ones. A simple fix if you’re willing to do it.
- If you don’t want to invest in a standing desk, consider creating a weekly workout routine. Even though I have a standing desk that I use, I try my best to workout 2-3 times a week. You don’t have to go to a gym to do this, of course. There are some great Yoga teachers on YouTube, as well as Refit (a clean dance/cardio workout) and Zumba. I prefer to do stretching/yoga and Refit on the days I’m not working out with my Hubby. 🙂
- Finally, this last one is just a tip for mental health — check in with yourself often. How are you doing, really? How are you feeling? Are you feeling angry, burnt out, or jealous? Frustrated or stressed with what’s going on? Emotional and needing to take a break? Consider not replying to emails for an afternoon, as well as staying off of social media. Even put down your writing. While writing can be therapeutic, there are times where we need other modes of expression and self-care. Make sure that you give yourself the grace and room to take a step away and help yourself get back to feeling 100%. Some things I love to do when I’m feeling any of these is to step back and either color, read a good book, or watch one of my favorite movies. Discover your favorite methods of self-care that way you can take care of yourself when need be.
I hope all of these tips help you create a healthy lifestyle that fits perfectly with your writing career! Remember that being a writer doesn’t mean you have to deal with the pain that’s usually involved. There’s space for you to be better, so make sure you give yourself that!