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Writerly Health Tips and Tricks

Had a rough few weeks between headaches and sore wrists, so I thought this might be a good time to bring up this post. I actually wrote it a while back and forgot about it (oops), but it still reads right on the nose for me now, so I figured what the hell? Onward!

So being a writer can be tough on our health. Between the sedentary activity, repetitive motion, and time cooped up alone with our computer, we can wreak havoc on our bodies if we aren’t careful. With that in mind, I’ve put together a few inexpensive quick tips that have helped me stay healthier while I write. I’m not a doctor or nurse (though I have worked with multiple doctors who’ve suggested these specific things to me), but these have all worked for me so I thought I’d share. Feel free to take them or leave them, though I’d love to hear if any of these work for you!

Icy Hot Patches

I’m not trying to sound like an infomercial, I swear! Salonpas is another brand-name version you can try too, though honestly I’ve had better luck with store-brand patches than anything else (HEB’s version seems to work the best for me).

Basically, the patches are adhesive and have menthol infused in them which works really well for me with joint pain. I have a hell of a time with chronic pain in my wrists and hands, which makes writing by hand or by computer a lot more uncomfortable than I’d like. To keep the costs down, I usually buy the large back-sized patches and then cut them into small strips and wrap them around my wrists. For me, the patches actually seem to work better for my pain than acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and I’m not risking my stomach by taking too many OTC NSAIDs.

They may not work for everyone, and you might need to try more than one kind (generic versus name brand) to see which adhesive works better (the Icy Hot patch adhesive actually makes my skin break out, thus me using the store-brands). They should at least give you an option to try on the days when massive amounts of typing messes with your wrists.

You can also use the roll-on version or the basic cream, but the patches have been the most convenient and mess free for using around my keyboard.

Vitamin D Supplements

If you’re like me and spend most of your day indoors for a day job and then go home and spend the rest of the day indoors writing, you definitely should be taking a vitamin D supplement.

Seriously, for us writerly folks, it may be one of the single best supplements you can take considering some of the symptoms/habits that writers seem to share. According to WebMD, the main symptoms of vitamin D deficiency generally are bone pain or muscle weakness, but considering the vitamin is supposed to help with a slew of other health issues, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you’re getting enough in your system. Added bonus, vitamin D and sunshine have been known to help with depression. Finally, it tends to be one of the more reasonably priced supplements you can take. I’ve gotten close to a year’s supply for about $20 depending on where I buy it.

No matter what, it really can’t hurt you, so why not try it out?

A Timer

Be it on your phone, stove, app, whatever, a timer can make a huge difference in your mindfulness about just how long you’ve been sitting on your sit-upon. There’s tons of studies out there about just how bad sitting still at a desk is for your body, and lord knows when I reach the flow state with my writing, I lose complete track of time.

That’s where the timer comes in. Depending on my mood, I’ll either set it for 30 minute increments and do short writing sprints, or I’ll set it for 2 hours to really let myself have time to sink into the zone. Then, whenever the timer goes off, I have to stand up and do something, anything¸ while standing for at least 10-15 minutes. It can be sweeping the house, vacuuming, taking a walk around the block, emptying and loading the dishwasher, or even being really ambitious and doing a 10 minute exercise video. Basically just get the butt out of the chair and let your body stretch and walk around. It lets your hands rest, too, which helps. Depending on how many rounds of writing and activity you do, you could easily get in the daily recommended exercise of 30 minutes to an hour without having to force it into your mental schedule.

Added writerly bonus: physical activity can often break through writer’s block. You know, for those of us who struggle with that. Not that you do. Right? Right. LOL

Glare Shield

This is one I’ve only recently been using, but MAN has it already made a difference. I’m working in a new day job office, and lately I have several open doors leading right through to some windows. The glare coming off my monitor was awful until I got one of the glare shields. Now I know what you’re thinking – why did I just move my monitor? Sadly, between the size of the desk and the distance to the wall plugs, there just wasn’t another place that would work for the monitor and keyboard. Trust me, I was doing the “but can’t the cord pull just a litttttttttle farther?” dance, but alas, I was left out of luck.

Enter the glare shield.

Already, I’ve noticed my eyes aren’t feeling nearly as dry and scratchy, and my headaches don’t seem to be coming as quickly. I see warnings about computer screens and eye strain/fatigue all the time, but I guess it didn’t sink in that this was the problem I was having.

And knowing my other writer friends? It’s definitely possible that it might be a problem for them to. So yeah, it might be worth looking into. They’re not as cheap as I would hope, but it’s definitely cheaper than having to get better glasses or taking Excedrin for weeks on end!

But yeah, I think that’s probably all I have for now – what are y’all’s tips for keeping healthy while trudging through the sedentary writerly lifestyle? Tweet them to me over @C_L_McCollum or drop a comment to me on Facebook

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