As a Mental Health Practitioner, I have been experimenting with well-being exercises that support my writing, and I want to open up discussions about writer’s well-being.
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.
Today I want to discuss your Physical Health.
[Usual Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and please see your GP if you feel you require any form of support for your mental or physical health. If you live in England, every county has access to a free IAPT psychological therapies service. Additionally, The Samaritans are a free, confidential listening charity, and you can contact them on 116 123 if you need to talk.]
Physical Health ::
One of the most common ‘health’ issues I see explored with writers is that of their hands and wrists. One of the key warnings spoken of around National Novel Writing Month is that of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or Repetitive Strain Injury around the wrist. But speaking with other writers, issues with the back and neck from posture, knees from prolonged sitting, and eye-strain or headaches are incredibly common.
Equally, many writers are stereotyped as sitting for long periods of time, and fuelling their writing with food and drink which is not the healthiest; but quick, easy sustenance.
In 2016, I began really getting active; realising my posture, eye-sight and mobility in my hands and fingers was suffering. I began focusing on healthy meals, or at least, the healthier or two choices, and began exercising 2-3 times a week.
I’ve not kept this up 100%, but I’m still doing more than I did in 2015, and for me, the not-going-backwards is almost as important a forward progress. As of March 2018, I’m focusing on my posture, on managing aches and pains with stretches and visiting the GP when something has lasted a while.
Sometimes, as much as we try to are for our own bodies, we need a helping hand, and I think it’s important to access that help when needed.
Many writers have explored specific equipment, from standing desks and treadmill desks to back-stretching exercises. Even I have a “shark” mouse: one that allows me to hold it sideways, resting my wrist in a different way.
I’m not going to attempt to explain all of the research about how exercise supports our mental wellbeing. If you’d like to look up the most up-to-date information, I recommend the following resources:
- Mind – Exercise and Sport
- World Health Organisation: draft global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030
- National Health Service: Mental Health & Activity
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – Physical Activity
- Mental Health Foundation – Exercise
A Simple Thought
How do you take care of your physical health? Do you eat a healthy diet, stay active or get enough sleep? Have you tried stretching at the end of the day, or getting up to move every two hours?