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Build in Time to be a Healthy Writer

Angie here: A long time ago, someone once told me to build in time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate...and I didn't listen. Do you?
When caffeine can't wake me up,
I need to build in time to be a healthy writer.
I thought I did, but realistically I didn't. Being a type A personality doesn't help. I'm very driven. Filling up the day, every day, doesn't leave any time to rejuvenate. Even worse, without that rejuvenation there's less creativity (regardless of the job).

I find myself needing more caffeine, feeling more stressed, and struggling to get the word count I need to meet deadlines. If this sounds like you too, consider a few ways to build in time to be a healthy writer.

  1. Schedule rest and relaxation into your calendar. If it's not scheduled, then it's too easy to say yes to a request and fill in the blanks.
  2. Leave your smart phone on your desk and go for a walk.
  3. Invite a friend over to watch a movie, eat popcorn, and chat.
  4. Be sure to schedule exercise each day to build health while blowing off steam. (And yes, I watch my fav shows while on the elliptical.)
  5. Turn off phone ringers and close your eyes for 20 minutes in the middle of the afternoon. Set your timer and let your mind wander or fall asleep. Either way, awake or asleep, your mind is getting the break it needs to work out the challenges you've given it.
  6. Plan a retreat with other writers, but buy take-out so you aren't cooking and cleaning.
  7. Go to the movies—it gets you away from daily life.
  8. Visit the mountains or beaches or biking trails near you.
  9. Don't get into the habit of rescheduling your downtime. It's too easy to do that over and over again. Rescheduling is for emergencies only.
  10. Schedule and go to all your regular medical appointments. Know your health and keep it.
So how many of these 10 tips to build in time to be a healthy writer am I practicing? All of them. Over the last couple of weeks, I took a look back at the last few months. A complete blur. 

Over the summer, I got so run down that it felt like the world was rushing at me, around me, and I couldn't focus. If it feels like that for you too, a complete blur, then here's your wake-up call to build in time to be a healthy writer too.

Begin today building in time to be a healthy writer into your calendar. Within a few weeks, you'll be able to see a shift to a healthier life and work style as the calendar starts to show a more balanced approach. Don't get discouraged if it does take a few weeks or more. It took me over a month to figure out how to rearrange things and how to sometimes say no in order to protect my health and time. But when my productivity started to improve, that helped me realize the wisdom. When my jaw didn't hurt from clenching, I realized I'd been doing it! 

A walk around the block helps productivity (and word count!)
How about you? Is it time to build in rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation for a stronger productivity level? See you after my walk around the block in the mountains...

The Healthy Writer and Exercise

Liz here.

Diana and Jen have already given you some great advice. Most of it, I already do. The rest of it, I’m going to work on incorporating into my life. 

Like Jen, I have fibromyalgia. One thing I’ve found that really helps is exercise. Especially when I don’t feel well, exercise is all the more important. It helps to warm and stretch my muscles and sharpen my thinking. 

I walk just about every day, three miles each day. For me, that works. So, how do you start an exercise regimen? (As always, talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program.)

     1.  Find a time that works for you and be consistent. I get up at 5:20 a.m. to take my walk. It means that it’s often dark, so I wear a reflective vest and a headlamp. My little Jack Russell terrier even has a flashing red light on her collar. Why do I torture myself with getting up so early? Because it’s what works for me. If I try to do it at any other time of the day (and I’ve tried), I come up with a million excuses. Life gets busy and exercise doesn’t happen. 

     2. Find something you like to do and stick with it. I love to walk outside. I hate the treadmill. So, I’m out there every morning in just about all kinds of weather. At that time of the morning, the world is so still and quiet, the air fresh and clean. It’s great. What is it you like to do? Run? Swim? Lift weights? Then do it! And you’d be surprised how many calories you can burn by gardening, vacuuming, washing the floors, even running up and down stairs with the laundry. 

3. You don’t have to spend a ton of money. I walk outside. That’s an investment in good tennis once a year. My vest and headlamp weren’t expensive and last a long time. That’s it! The rest is free. No expensive gym membership required. If you go online, you can find videos for dance fitness, yoga, and other exercises that don’t take a lot of cash.

4. Find an accountability partner. Someone you have to answer to. It’s amazing how you’ll get out there and exercise when you have to report to someone. You can even post it to Facebook through apps. My dog is a great accountability partner. If I skip a couple of days, she lets me know!

All of us have many, many stories to tell. Staying healthy by exercising will give us more years to write them all! How do you incorporate exercise into your life?

The Healthy Writer, part 2

Jen here: 

I have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. The RA has been progressively worse this year, and we haven't found a treatment to work yet. And I've met many writers with fibro. Even if you don't have a chronic disease, writing can be hard on your body. 

Did you know sitting is now being considered as dangerous to your health as smoking? And what do we as writers do? We sit. A lot. Because the only thing that gets books written is BIC time. Butt in chair time.

The good news is there are a few things we can do. Diana mentioned the standing desk. I got one too. I use a gel kitchen mat when I'm standing. And when I'm sitting I often use an exercise ball like this. Amazon link. 

I started with an exercise ball back when I worked in publishing. The ball requires you to engage your core so you might need to work up to it. Also be careful you don't turn to get something and end up rolling yourself in the floor. They make exercise ball chairs now, too, that solve this problem. My problem, once I moved my office home, was that the kids would take off with it. They thought it was fun. 

You are the biggest investment you have in your career. It makes sense to take good care of yourself. I  regularly do yoga to help with fibro pain and maintain strength, balance, and flexibility. I eat low carb, gluten free, and as organic and unprocessed as I can. I got my hormones regulated so I can sleep well.  All of those have added up. But everyone is different ,and it takes some time to chase down what you need to do to be your best self. But everyone can spend time in nature, getting fresh air, and listening to God. 

Be the writer God created you to be.