Updated: May 19
Explore the health issues around writers and how to deal with them in a way that helps you to continue getting the work done and market yourself as a writer.
So, are you a writer? And if you said yes, how’s your health? Let’s face it: we spend a lot of time in front of the computer, right? Most of us have side effects because of this. Like the eyes, back or neck pain, or that horrible feeling when you get up from your desk. Writer’s health is just as important as your writing routine. Let’s explore how you can prevent the most common health issues and keep writing in a safe and healthy way.
Writers' health matters. Like in any other job, you need to take care of yourself and your health. Here is a list of the most common health issues in writers and how to improve them.
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1. Computer induced myopia and dry eyes
As a writer, you probably spend a lot of time looking at digital screens. Whether it be your computer, phone, or tablet, digital screens can hurt the health of your eyes. Some of these have to do with the way how we work. For instance, staring at your computer screen can lead to dry eyes and contribute to computer-induced myopia (trouble seeing distant objects). If you experience this, take a break from your screen every 2 hours for 10 minutes at least and go to get checked by your optometrist, since you might need prescription glasses.
Writers who sit in front of their computers for long periods also blink less often than normal, which leads to dry eyes, too. You can start using lubricating eye drops/artificial tears, add a humidifier during wintertime, and position your computer screen below the level of your eyes to avoid having your eyes wide open.
Headaches can be troublesome for writers. The dull aching throbbing that makes it impossible to focus on writing is a serious impediment to creating interesting stories or articles.
If you have a headache that is caused by muscle tension in your neck or shoulders, try to take a break from your work and lie down with an ice pack on your forehead for 15 minutes at least once every hour. If possible, get some fresh air outdoors while you're resting.
Sometimes a headache can be caused due to an increase in blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and need to take medications to control it, make sure that you are taking them as prescribed.
Caffeine can also cause sudden spikes in blood pressure that consequently will cause you headaches. Try to cut on caffeine to help you feel better.
Dehydration can lead to severe headaches that may last for hours or days. This is especially true if you live in a hot climate where high temperatures can contribute to dehydration. As a writer, it's easy for you to get caught up in what you're doing and forget about drinking water. Have a bottle of water close to you and put a reminder every 30 minutes so you don’t forget to drink water during the day.
If your headaches are coming due to a bad posture, then start improving the way you seat. Keep both feet flat on the floor and knees at hip level, with thighs parallel to the floor. Your lower back should be straight and supported. Avoid twisting when using office equipment. If your chair does not swivel, move your entire body instead of twisting at the waist. Also, adjust the seat height so that your elbows are even with or slightly higher than the height of the desk. And if you use a keyboard tray, be sure that it is properly adjusted so that your shoulders are relaxed and your elbows are close to your body.
3. Back/Neck pain
Writers spend long hours sitting at the desk, which is why back/neck pain issues are so common among them. One of the main reasons for this is bad posture. Slouching and hunching over the keyboard can affect the body negatively over time and even lead to chronic back/neck pain.
To prevent back/neck pain, use an ergonomic chair that promotes good posture. You can adjust your chair in a way that allows you to sit with your back against the backrest and keep your feet flat on the floor. Also, take frequent breaks and move around a bit every 30 minutes or so. And, use a standing desk or a desk that's adjustable in height, so you can alternate between sitting and standing positions while working. Adjust your monitor height, so it is at height level. And Do some simple stretches for the muscles in your neck and back to maintain elasticity and strength in those muscles.
4. Wrist issues
The most common cause of wrist pain in writers is repetitive strain injury. This is caused by doing an activity with a repeated movement or posture over an extended period of time. To avoid an injury on your wrists, take frequent breaks from typing — every 20 minutes is ideal — and stretch your hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders. Keep your wrists level when you type so there is less stress on them. Don't bend them up or down while you're typing. Stretch your fingers frequently during breaks to improve circulation in your hands and wrists. Consider using a stress ball to give your hands something to squeeze during these breaks. And, invest in an ergonomic keyboard or mouse pad.
Obesity can lead to several health problems, from heart disease to diabetes and more. Sadly, sitting and typing is an easy way to pack on the pounds. To prevent obesity, the first step is to get up every hour. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you every hour. This will make sure you get up and move around regularly. Another step is to snack on healthy foods while writing. For those that want to exercise while writing to burn some extra calories, another option is to do pedal exercises.
Writers are very prone to insomnia and it is not because they are trying to be like the famous poet Edgar Allen Poe. It is because writers, unlike people in other professions, are constantly being fed new ideas and thoughts which they want to put down on paper at the soonest possible time. This can make it difficult for them to fall asleep at night, especially if the ideas are really good. The problem with not getting enough sleep is that it can affect your productivity when you are finally awake during the day. The mind gets tired easily and you can find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper while your brain desperately tries to think of what to write next.
To start sleeping faster and longer, go to sleep around the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning, even on weekends or holidays. Within a week or two, your body will adapt to this schedule and begin to feel sleepy at the same time each evening. Keep your room cool and dark. Make sure your phone and other electronic devices are turned off before bedtime so they don't distract you from sleep. And try reading a book instead of watching television or using social media on your phone before bedtime. To know more about insomnia, its causes, and home remedies, read my post, Best Home Remedies for Insomnia.
7. Stress and Depression
Writing is one of the most stressful professions out there. Writers are constantly under pressure to produce, and they often struggle to meet deadlines. They're also afraid of failure and rejection, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
How do you prevent stress and depression? Make sure you take time out for yourself so you can recharge your batteries! Don't neglect your social life or health either - they're both important too! Doing things like going outside more often (even if only for 15 minutes at least) or taking regular breaks throughout the day will help. Exercising regularly and eating healthy are good for your mental and physical well-being. Also, make sure you get enough sleep every night. And engage in activities for relaxation, like meditation/yoga, or use music or aromatherapy to calm down after your workday. Find more different ways to calm your mind, here.
Writers are at risk of many health problems. Being a successful writer is not just about the craft itself, but is also about keeping yourself healthy and fit. Taking action to correct these issues can make a big difference in your productivity and quality of life. At the end of the day, the writers’ health matters.
And as always, stay healthy and come back for the next topic.
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