by Lynette M. Burrows
It’s the holidays and your non-writing mind may be on giving gifts to others. That’s wonderful, but consider giving a writer-centric gift to yourself. Writers are often workaholics, to their physical detriment. This holiday season, give yourself the gift of better health. Here are 35 tips to make you a healthier writer in 2022.
Please note that this is not medical advice. If you have symptoms of repetitive stress injuries or any chronic medical issues, consult your personal health care provider before changing your work environment or habits.
For Your Eyes
Focusing on the computer screen makes the user blink thirty to fifty percent less frequently than normal. This causes dry, red, gritty-feeling eyes, and eyestrain.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a lot to say about how to avoid eye strain. The essentials are:
- Keep the computer 25 inches (an arm’s length) away from your face.
- The top of the monitor should be at eye level.
- Reduce glare by repositioning lights or using an anti-glare filter.
- Give your eyes a 20-20-20 break. Every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.
- Use a desktop humidifier or artificial tears.
- Natural lighting is best. A combination of natural and artificial light will also work.
- Adjust the brightness of your room (or screen) so your screen is less bright than the room lights.
For Your Hands and Arms
- Find a keyboard that allows your wrists to be in a neutral position (not flexed).
- Your mouse should be in easy reach of your dominant hand. Or you can use a foot controlled mouse.
- Try to keep your arms parallel to the floor.
- Avoid resting your arms on the edge of the keyboard, desk, or table.
- Elbows should be at 100 to 110 degrees. This means your keyboard should be slightly higher in the back of it, so use those little feet on your keyboards.
For Your Heart and Circulation
- When you take a break, do something. Walk a hundred paces, do stretches, get up and move.
- Do aerobic exercises every day, at least every day you’re at the computer.
- Blood is about fifty percent water. Drink eight glasses of water a day to keep it moving.
For Your Legs
- Don’t cross your legs or ankles.
- Your chair should allow your feet to be flat on the floor. Use a step stool if you can’t get your chair into the correct position.
- Treadmill desks benefit your legs and your entire body. Sit-stand desks are helpful too.
- If your feet swell, try the legs-up-the-wall yoga position.
For Your Spine (Neck & Back)
- Maintain good posture.
- Use a chair with lumbar back support. Or sit on a balance ball if you can maintain proper arm and hand position while on the ball.
- Position yourself so your feet are flat on the floor.
- Computer height should be just below your head height so that you look slightly down without bending your neck.
- Avoid twisting or turning your torso. Frequently used items should be directly in front of you.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your sides.
- Sit-stand desks are a great option.
- Take a one- to two-minute break every twenty minutes, a five-minute break every hour, and get up and do an activity away from the computer every few hours.
For Your Writer Mind, Spirit, and Soul
- Breathe. Take five deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth.
- When you take a break, turn on the tunes that make you want to move.
- Get outside. Our bodies need the vitamin D sunlight provides.
- Take five minutes to be grateful. Sometimes finding one thing you are genuinely grateful for can turn your day around.
- Smell the roses or whatever flower or scent that calms you.
- Meditate for five or ten minutes.
- Keep a writer’s motivation journal or album. Collect your positive reviews or critiques, quotes that speak to you, and any motivational or inspirational memes or images. Sometimes we all need to pat ourselves on the back.
- Last, but not least, give yourself the gift of a few days off to enjoy friends, family at least once a week and at the holidays.
Become a Healthier You
Writers are notorious for not taking care of themselves. Are you one who doesn’t? Even one change to your workspace ergonomics or habits can improve your health. Try it. Don’t change everything at once. Start with one change. Maintain it for three or four months, then add another change. Which of these tips to make you a healthier writer will you use?
What’s your best tip for being a healthier writer? We'd love to know about it down in the comments!
* * * * * *
Lynette M. Burrows loves hot coffee, reading physical books, and the crack of a 9mm pistol—not all at the same time, though they all show up in her stories. She writes thrilling science fiction readers can't put down.
Her series, The Fellowship Dystopia, presents a frightening familiar American tyranny that never was but could be. In Book One, My Soul to Keep, Miranda discovers dark family secrets, the brutality of the Fellowship way of life, and the deadly reality of rebellion. In Fellowship, the series companion novel, a desperate young man and his siblings hide in the mountains from the government agents who Took their parents. Book two of the series, If I Should Die, will be published in 2022.
Owned by two Yorkshire Terriers, Lynette lives in the land of Oz. You can find her online at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter @LynetteMBurrows.
Top Image by Harry Strauss from Pixabay
Second Image/photo by Photo by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash
Third Image/photo by JP Lockwood on Unsplash
Last Image/photo by by JackieLou DL from Pixabay
All great suggestions!
I tend to lean on an elbow and have to be aware of posture.
One thing I started doing is get up and move around once an hour This is hard when I'm "in-the-flow" but necessary.
Great job getting up every hour. It is difficult for all of us writer-types, but as you said, necessary. BTW, I had to give up leaning on my elbows when I developed an irritated nerve that made my ring and little fingers numb. I'm glad you're aware of that and working to change it before you develop a repetitive stress injury.
This was a good reminder for me today, Lynette! Water is always always always my biggest challenge. Another thing I must work around is a blood clotting disorder - I have to work with my feet up, which makes the get-up-and-move advice even more critical because it puts some strain on my lower back.
So, I'm getting up to move and stretch, just because I read this article. Thanks for that! My trainer thanks you too. 🙂
Jenny, I'm sorry you have to deal with a clotting disorder. That does double down on your need to drink water and get up and move. I'm glad this article worked as a reminder.
I bought an UpRight Go Posture buzzer. It works great. But I have to take it off when I leave my desk or it will drive me crazy. I also bought a tomato timer to sprint write. And I always have a candle nearby for aroma therapy. I bought a book called My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation by Donald M. Rattner and I cannot say how much good info is inside this stunning book. He discusses colors desk position, plants, light, air, themes, moods, texture....just a ton of fun info. I'm also using the Fabulous app to figure out my habits. I've got more things that I have to utilize but I'm in the middle of a house move so my space is chaos. Keep pens and pencils and tablets near. clean your space often to ensure organization and healthy mental spaces. Keep dog treats nearby to reward your faithful one who is just waiting for that walk. Use music like a blanket of love.
The posture buzzer intrigued me. I'm glad it works for you. I will have to check out the book you mentioned. And, I've got to say, I love the phrase "Use music like a blanket of love." Thanks for sharing, JL Nich.
I have a desk and for a while now, I don't even sit at it when I write, I sit on my bed. But they are good tips. At least I do exercise. ?
Every little bit helps, Pamela. Unless you have a unique setup, the bed isn't terribly ergonomic. Listen to what your body tells you. If it's uncomfortable in anyway, it's probably time to move.
I know, Lynette. It's probably the worst location I could be and not just that reason but I'm hard-headed when I want to be, even to my own detriment. ?
Sorry for the delayed response, Pamela. A storm knocked my power out--15 hours and counting. Anyway, I'm here now. And boy do I hear you. I think all writers have a bit of that stubborn streak .
I hope that your power is back on and that you're safe there. ?
Thanks Pamela. I am cold but safe. There are crews working both ends of the block now so I'm hopeful will have power before nightfall. If not, my son has offered a place on his warm sofa.
Well, that's nice. We thought we only had to really worry about tornadoes and bad wind storms in the spring and summer, smh. #climatechangeisreal
Pamela, I have heat and light and heat. I really missed the heat. lol -- all is well. Thank you for your concern.
I'm so glad you have your heat back!!
Thanks. It was a challenge...and cold. lol
This post has so many wonderful reminders to slow down the writer-workaholic and take the necessary breaks. (As I uncross my legs and raise up my laptop for a better eye-level position.) I hadn't heard of the 20-20-20 for eye strain breaks. Pretty slick way to remember to refresh our eyes. Thanks for the tips!
I'm glad you found useful tips in my post, Kris. I used to be one of those who kept my legs or ankles crossed. It's a hard habit to break. Laptops are so dang convenient but so difficult to use ergonomically. Choosing convenience over ergonomics is a habit I haven't broken yet. lol
Thanks, Lynette. We all need this.
You can also protect your eyes by purchasing a monitor (such as an Asus Eye Care monitor) that cuts glare. Windows (Night Light) and Apple (Night Shift) also offer options for brightness and blue reduction.
Kathy, I am so glad you mentioned those. I had meant to include those features on Windows and Apple and didn't. They are excellent features to use. Thank you.
My pleasure, Lynette. Dry eyes are a problem for many writers.
[…] Please read the remaining 23 tips to a Healthier Writer You in 2022 on the WITS blog. […]
What a fantastic list! I already made a few adjustments. Thanks.
I'm glad you found it helpful, Julie.
[…] 35 Tips to a Healthier Writer You in 2022 […]
My eye doctor also has my use eye drops.
I use a low stool for my feet because I'm short--they won't be flat on the ground.