“Health is the greatest wealth.”---Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was a Wednesday night. I had promised myself that I would retire early to catch up on some much needed rest. Faithful to my word, I did.
TV. off, lights out, thoughts silenced, all by 9ish .
But, around 2 a.m., I found my sleep interrupted as visions of future blog posts danced in my head. Is it just me, or do you find that some of your best creative ideas emerge after your head hits the pillow, not before?
Anyhow, I faded in and out of consciousness waking up multiple times before I finally had to drag myself out of bed to officially begin my day.
Truth is, for all the smart, magical, creative things we accomplish, writers are notorious for not always being the best guardians of our health.
We’re sleep deprived. We lead sedentary lives.
We “juggle” more than a circus clown. We internalize stress.
Author Truman Capote got his daily fix through caffeine and nicotine. Hemingway was reported to be a heavy drinker.
And though many famous writers were actually discovered after their deaths, I’m guessing you don’t want to be one of them? :-)
With this in mind, here are a few common issues and ailments that impact today’s writers, along with smart strategies to overcome them, to optimize your health in 2015.
Sleep needs vary; experts recommend 6 to 8 hours nightly. Though sleep deprivation may appear to be “nothing to lose sleep over,” think again. It can cause or contribute to poor concentration, diabetes, depression, weight gain and stress. Here’s a great piece by WebMD that goes into greater detail.
Often it’s hard for writers to “disengage” and stop our creative process at the end of the day, but we must. (Think of it as recharging your battery).
On a personal note…I’ve found that not drinking caffeine too close to bed time, taking warm baths, and clearing the mind, can all contribute to a better night’s rest.
Some people swear by warm milk as well.
Let’s face it: one of the best things about being a writer is the ability to work from home in our jammies, and sit in a comfortable, cozy environment as we create. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the worst things for our overall health and longevity. Like it or not, we need to get up and get active to enjoy a good quality of life. Exercise is beneficial to the heart. It delivers oxygen and nutrients to the body. And a host of other positive things.
But I admit that I don't have the time or desire to join the local health club.
In fact, the last time I found myself going out and shaking it up in the gym, President Bush was in administration. I'm happy to say I found an alternative. I'm still able to maintain a reasonable level of physical activity through dancing. That’s right. I love dance movement. I have a home library of all sorts of videos--from belly dancing, to Richard Simmons’ “Sweatin to the oldies,” to Jane Fonda workouts.
Of course, your exercise of choice may be skating, or golf, or bowling, or jogging, or basketball. Whatever it is, indulge. Commit to stay fit.
Did you know that even chores around the house, (done properly) can help you to burn calories and stay active? Things like vacuuming the carpet, or doing gardening can surprisingly have favorable results.
It works if you work it!
TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS AND STRESS
Toxic relationships can come in many forms. A client with unrelenting demands, that refuses to pay fairly for services rendered. A combative relative who takes big stands on small issues.
A co-worker who gossips and gets on your last nerve.
“Don’t it make your brown eyes blue?”
Besides the health-related toll that these situations can potentially bring, (elevated blood pressure, a higher risk of fibroids, obesity due to emotional eating, etc.), is the havoc it wreaks with our creativity. There’s no escaping that stress can cause writer’s block. No output means no income. No income leads to greater stress. Get where I’m going here?
The remedy? Take a chill pill. Learn and adopt the serenity prayer.
Here are some additional tips to consider.
- All things in moderation. Whether it's alcohol consumption, fried foods, or indulging in sweet treats.
- Visit your doctor regularly. Particularly for yearly screenings, or if you have certain risk factors.
- Keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
- Yoga and meditation are said to be effective measures to combating stress.
- Prayer helps. Even the medical community has embraced its therapeutic effects.
One of the most common resolutions each year is to improve health.
It's never too late to start.
Keep these tips in mind, and keep positive thoughts. It's just what the doctor ordered!
Comments here? What's your health goal for 2015? Do share.
Note: The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not to be substituted for medical advice or care. Consult your physician where applicable.