Healthy Body, Healthy Mind?


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Last week, I pinched a nerve in my neck. In the ensuing pain and discomfort, I began to wonder if it had to do with my new job, and the new desk/chair/layout I’m getting used to. And then I realized that it shouldn’t really matter. Unfortunately I’m not in the best shape of my life. And I don’t think the writer’s lifestyle is helping – spending 8 hrs a day at my desk at work, and another 4-5 at home sitting with my laptop trying to work on my WIP. Not exactly conducive to a healthy body.

I know this is one of the hazards of being a writer, but I’m afraid it’s going to make it harder for me to keep writing, not easier. With my sore neck, and my increasingly stiff back, I’m distracted and uncomfortable when I try to write. Our bodies are made to move, and with my sedentary job, I’m not getting as much exercise as I need. And if I’m not healthy physically, I’m afraid I won’t be mentally. (Well, ok, I’m already a bit odd, but you know what I mean!)

So what are some easy ways for writers to keep moving?

1. Fidget as much as possible. I know this drives my boyfriend crazy, and I’m sure my coworkers get annoyed, but bouncing my legs, moving my arms, bopping my head as I work all count as movement. I’m sure my pinched nerve is because I hold my head in the same position for hours at a time.

2. Get up and Move. In my new office, the bathroom is literally 4 steps from my desk – I can’t use a bathroom break as exercise. So I’ve been making myself get up and walk around the business park where we’re located. It takes me roughly 20 minutes to make one loop right now. I plan on bumping it to two eventually.

3. Stand up and stretch. I work in a cube farm, so I’m not advocating calisthenics or anything, but something as simple as standing up and touching your toes, or stretching your arms always helps.

4. Clench your muscles. Ok, this one sounds funny, but I read somewhere that if you clench and release your major muscle groups, it keeps them moving and builds strength. I haven’t tried it yet, but I might.

5. Keep moving when you get home. I know all I want to do when I get home is grab dinner, open my laptop and get to work (or if it’s been a particularly bad day, watch TV). But force yourself to walk around the block, run up and down the stairs a few times or do a bit of gardening. Something to get a few more minutes in.

6. Take up an active hobby. I will admit it, I hate working out. But I know how much it benefits me and makes me feel better. I’m trying to find things that I like to do but that are still active. I might try a Couch to 5k training program, or ride my bike more often. I’ve even looked into Yoga or Nia classes. Something that I’ll enjoy and stick with.

These are just a couple of ideas for keeping limber physically as a writer. What other things do you do to make sure you stay healthy and moving?

2 Comments

  1. I do a lot of sitting at my job, too, so I know exactly where you're coming from. I'm so petrified of gaining weight (At 5'1'' I have places to put all of it!), so I finally bellied up and joined the gym. Now I go to Pilates and Yoga every week, and occasionally throw in a swim routine. I love Pilates cause it really activates my core, but Yoga is my favorite. If your teacher does it right, you work and stretch your whole body. It's better than a massage.

    Contracting your muscles does help firm them, but not as much as actually working them would.

  2. I took a yoga class a couple of years ago and really loved it. My muscles are so tight now I can't imagine how much pain I'd be in starting up again. But I have to think it would be totally worth it to be able to stretch again! I think I'll have to look into it!