Is this what your insides look like? (photo courtesy of magicpoolservices.com )
Writers are not exactly the poster children for health and wellness. We are known for overindulgence, whether that is coffee, alcohol, nicotine or even self-pity. Too many of us are cramped and huddled over a keyboard, multi-tasking a bazillion things at one time. We edit our WIP while our child uses our knee for a chew toy. We balance the phone against our ear to pay the bills while we try to cull through the 369 e-mails that magically appeared in our In Box while we slept. We seem to always be going full steam and in a thousand directions.
The problem is that this is not a good way for anyone to live, particularly creative people. Our best work will come when we are centered, fit, and healthy.
I used to do an hour of yoga a day. Hey, I was single with no children and all I did was edit manuscripts and write copy for a living. My time was my own. Of course, yoga was likely the only thing I did that was healthy. I had a long list of really unhealthy habits including too much coffee and wine and too little sleep. I burned the candle at both ends and ate like hell. In the end, that poor living left me a neurotic and unproductive mess.
I seem to have this penchant for learning by doing everything wrong, but, hey, at least I am good for something. So, today I will give you guys a handful of tips to help you guys remain fit, centered, and healthy. I learned all this stuff the hard way so you don’t have to.
Learn to Limit Caffeine and Sugar
I used to be the poster child for energy drinks. What those companies don’t tell you, though, is that guarana, ginsing and ginkoba can give you anxiety, depression and mood swings. Sure they help us feel perky and the brain feels clearer, but if we come to rely on those kinds of drinks, we tax our adrenal system. These herbs can stay in the system and interfere with getting restful sleep. Sugar is highly corrosive to the body and can cause all kinds of disease and premature aging. We can have sugar, but living off it is a bad plan.
I drink two cups of coffee a day, but my last cup is no later than noon. I used to suffer terribly from insomnia, and this practice of limiting caffeine and sugar has helped tremendously.
Oh, I’m such a nag! Yes, and eat your vegetables and wear clean underwear, too. Here’s the deal. Our body is mostly water. Ever seen an abandoned swimming pool that’s been sitting in the sun? It’s all slimy with green goo floating on the surface pocked with mosquito eggs. The water is like a hot zone, full of bacteria and leeches and all things yucky. The water is a dark greenish-yellowish-brown.
That is the picture of a body that doesn’t move.
Our lymphatic system is the filter for our body, and it only works if we move. Motion pumps fluid through the lymphatic system to filter all the yucky stuff that causes disease, depression and cancer. We don’t have to work out like world athletes, but 30 minutes of activity a day can do wonders.
Oh, I can’t seem to make my word count. Blech. (photo courtesy of housingbath.com)
Continuing the pool analogy, what would happen if you filled your pool with Coke, coffee, or tea? We are a hydroelectric system and we need water. Not only does exercise get the pumps working, but we need fresh water to replace the old yucky stuff. Our body cannot clean itself properly with soda. All nerve firing happens by conducting pulses of electricity across a hydroelectric grid of sorts. When we don’t have enough water, we misfire… a lot. Braid foggy? Feeling tired? Having a hard time focusing? Try a glass of water before reaching for an energy drink. Think of a plant withering from lack of water. This is your brain. Don’t water the plants (brain) with Dr. Pepper.
Writers need to stretch or we risk all kinds of joint and back problems. If we are going to do this writing thing for a career, then we need to take care of our equipment. Yoga can serve as the exercise I mentioned earlier. Yoga is wonderful for getting the blood out of our feet and back in our brain. Yoga also strengthens the core muscles which are vital for a healthy back. Back surgery is a surefire way to stop a writing career dead in its tracks.
Eat Good Food
I have a rule. If an eight year old can’t read the ingredients, I don’t eat it. Avoid processed foods. Who knows what kind of effect all those chemicals have short-term or even long-term? Back in the 90s I ate olive oil, but my sister-in-law swore by the spreadable junk that came in a tub because it was low in fat and olives were just loaded in fat. I countered with, “Yeah, but even the roaches won’t eat your ‘butter.’ That can’t be good.” So, if the roaches turn their nose up at your favorite snack? That can’t be good brain food. Writers need their brains in top form. Feed it good stuff.
Get Enough Sleep
Actually, if we follow these tips, often we will find we get far better sleep. Exercise helps us work off anxiety and stress hormones. Water flushes the nasty byproducts out of the system. Stretching releases serotonin and relaxes us. When we limit caffeine, we aren’t working our adrenal glands into the ground. Good food is just great building material for a healthy body and mind, which are both vital to be a successful writer. Sleep allows our bodies and minds to recharge. A rested writer is a focused, more productive writer.
I included my favorite video, called “Be Careful what You Eat.” It’s hysterical. I hope it gives you guys a laugh. And make sure you pick up a copy of Joy Held’s Writer Wellness for even more tips to be healthy and productive.
So what tips can you guys share? What problems do you have with maintaining a healthy lifestyle? HAve you mended your ways and now enjoy more energy? Share your success.
I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.
Last Week’s Winner of 5 page critique is J. Thomas Ross. Please send 1250 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.
In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.