Writer’s Well-being: Simple Steps to Mental Health

hotchocolate-23novLast year, I specifically began working on my routines for good health, as part of my training course requires something called “Self-Practise, Self-Reflection.”

This essentially means that for every aspect of mental health we learn about at University (one day a week), we are encouraged as a practitioner to see this in action, to deliver the treatment to someone (during our four days at work) and to try the treatment on ourselves. This gives us a multi-faceted understanding of how a patient may feel as well as learning the ins and outs of any given aspect.

Not only have I learned a lot about balancing my health alongside my writing practise, but as a mental health practitioner, I want to open up discussions about writer’s well-being as it’s often overlooked.

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Well-being is defined as “the state of feeling healthy and happy” by the Cambridge Dictionary. Thus, there are multiple facets to our health and happiness than just our mental health, which can impact each other.

Physical Health :: There are plenty of resources out there about treadmill desks and wrist injuries due to writing or typing for hours at a time. And sometimes people joke about writers forgetting to eat because they are so into their fictional world, they forget to read the cues of the world around them.

Physical Environment :: From a cluttered desk or being out of coffee, to cats demanding attention – the environment plays a big part in how we feel, and how much writing can be done.

Mental Health :: A lot of assumptions about writers involve mental health difficulties or substance use.

Mental Environment :: Many writers have posted about how writing can become harder amidst times of trouble, to keep being creative in crisis and about how the key is to “write, despite.” Sometimes, we need to make space in our minds for the writing to flow.

Community :: Another common assumption: that writers shut themselves away from society to become recluses, or continually turn down options to do things during their writing time.

Personal Space :: Reflection is particularly important in the editing stage, but that sense of plodding through a difficult scene or separating the character’s emotions from our own can sometimes be challenging.

One of my plans for 2017 is to begin exploring some of the practical things we can do to improve our well-being in these areas; to get that balance. We all have different needs, but generally, discussing our health and the small changes which will improve it seems to be a low priority.

  1. Physical Activity [18Feb]
  2. Depression [11Mar]
  3. Negative Thoughts [7Apr]
  4. Burnout & Self Care [13May]
  5. Your Writing Environment [24Jun]

I’m not a medical professional; I merely have some knowledge around mental health, and have been experimenting with well-being techniques, leading to some useful findings that work for me.

Do you prioritise your well-being?

What works for you, and where are you still looking to find the right balance?

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2 responses to “Writer’s Well-being: Simple Steps to Mental Health

  1. Yes to all! My SO is in mental health, so he sees me at my worst and drags me out of the writer hole, but I have made a promise to myself to be more engaged in non-writerly activities this year. Mostly, because I’m starting to have that sense that time is passing and my connections are growing thinner. Being an introvert doesn’t help either.

    • I’ve found it very interesting how big an impact small tweaks to my routine had overall. I hope you’ll find the series interesting. Connections are still important to introverts, they just may need to be limited to bring the greatest gain 🙂

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