Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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April 22, 2024

🌟 7 Super Mental Health Hacks for Writers to De-Stress 🌟

by Kris Maze

As writers, it's important to take care of your mental health to maintain our productivity and to have a balanced, happy writing life. Sometimes this means taking a break from writing to attend to the important aspects of being a good human and to reset our minds for better creativity. Even when we have writing deadlines to deal with, let’s remember to take care of ourselves too.

At WITS, we encourage writers to focus on their well-being and to tap into good mental health habits. Take time to check in with your own writing tensions to find a more satisfying writing journey. 

Here are some simple hacks to help you de-stress and improve your writing life:

1. Deep Breathing 

Take slow, deep breaths to calm your mind and reduce stress. Deep breathing can increase focus and clarity, leading to better writing. This tip doesn’t take much time and can be done almost anywhere, while doing practically anything, like sitting at your writing desk, driving in your car, or while doing household chores. 

Want more guidance? Check out the videos below.

Take time to refresh your body and it will reward you. Breathing exercises can improve your physical feelings as you destress in better your mental outlook.

2. Mindful Writing Breaks

Schedule short breaks to practice mindfulness. This can help you stay present and reduce anxiety, leading to more inspired writing sessions. When we can remove negative mental blocks, we free up our thinking to write with more clarity and purpose.

Character Sketch Break:

Take a break to sketch. When finished review your picture. Does the character look the way you perceived them in your mind? Tell a detailed description of one of your characters to a friend or writing partner. They can often provide insights that you may have missed.

Draw your protagonist's physical appearance in a profile picture. Consider how you depict their expression and how it shows their personality traits. Do they have a shy smile? A calculated fixed Insta-ready face? A slowly creeping sneer? Drawing the description of your character can help you deepen your understanding of the character’s traits and liven up your story.

Setting Exploration Break:

Use your break to explore and describe a setting from your story in your imagination. Sit back on your couch or try doing this while walking on the treadmill. Keep paper or your phone nearby to jot down or record new insights. Imagine yourself in the world you've created and describe the sights, sounds, and smells of a key location. 

Ask yourself was sensations you feel on your skin. Moisture from the drizzling rain? Heat from the blazing sun? Soft chills from the gentle breeze near a lake? 

How do your other senses interact with your setting? Are there strong aromas? Lots of noise or deafening silence? Can you taste the salty air of the sea? Imagining your setting can help you visualize your setting more vividly and add depth to your writing.

Dialogue Practice Break:

Practice writing dialogue between two characters by enacting a scene aloud.  You could try role playing with a friend or hold the conversation by yourself. Perhaps don’t try this one in your regular coffee shop writing venue – it could be confusing to other customers. *wink*

Envision a conversation between your protagonist and a supporting character about a key plot point. Focus on making the dialogue natural and engaging. This can help you refine your characters' voices and improve your dialogue skills.

Or try interviewing your character using helpful questions from this WITS post by Eldred Bird.

These writing-inspired breaks can help you stay connected to your story and characters while giving your mind a rest from intense writing sessions.

3. Stretching

Stretching improves circulation and relieves muscle tension, promoting relaxation and better posture for long writing sessions. Adding stretching can keep your body moving and your mind happily writing.  Add these stretches to your writing routine for better productivity.

Here are three video sessions to walk you through a routine in only a few minutes. 

Have fun with this little guided video breaks or find your own new favorites. Your body thanks you.

4. Nature Walks

Spending time in nature can boost creativity and reduce stress. Take a short walk to clear your mind and stimulate new ideas. This is one of my favorite mind-cleansing activities that I use to find inspiration. Try these suggestions below to destress.

National Parks:

National parks offer vast, unspoiled landscapes with diverse flora and fauna, providing a rich source of inspiration for writers. If you are lucky to live near a national or state park, don’t take it for granted, but try getting some writing inspiration from it.

Visit a national park to explore its natural beauty and unique ecosystems. What elements can you use in your world building?  What features stand out to you and how can they be woven into your writing? While at a contemplative spot in the park, try writing a descriptive piece about the landscape, focusing on sensory details like sights, sounds, and smells. 


Beaches provide a tranquil setting with the soothing sound of waves and breathtaking views of the ocean, ideal for contemplation and creativity. Ocean are also wild and dangerous as waves and ocean animals can change your mindset at any moment.  Spending time on a beach can provide a variety of inspirational experiences.

Spend time at a beach to relax and unwind. While there, write a short story or poem inspired by the sea, using the rhythmic sound of the waves as a backdrop for your writing. Not the warm and sunny kind of beach? Find a cozy cottage or coffee shop and watch the churning waters from a safe distance.


Mountainous regions offer majestic landscapes, fresh mountain air, and a sense of solitude that can inspire introspection and creativity. Their ruggedness can inspire us to write difficult stories or scenes that depend on determination and grit.

Explore mountainous terrain to experience its grandeur and beauty. While hiking, take breaks to jot down your thoughts or observations, using the landscape as a metaphor for your own creative journey. 

How do you feel while traversing a rocky gorge? While cresting a peak or hitting the summit? Capture these feelings and sensations and add them to your novel.

Botanical Gardens:

Botanical gardens showcase a wide variety of plant species in beautifully landscaped settings, providing a peaceful environment for writing and reflection. Many cities have curated gardens and public displays of flora.

Visit a botanical garden to admire its beauty and diversity. While there, practice mindfulness by focusing on the details of a single flower or plant, and then write a poem or reflective piece inspired by your observations. Taking time to examine a specific plant you are not familiar with can open your appreciation to how details add depth to your story.

Rivers and Lakes:

Rivers and lakes offer tranquil settings with the soothing sound of flowing water and opportunities for water-based activities like kayaking or canoeing. Not into water sports? Sit by the edge and watch others as they fish and paddle along. What do you notice? There is always drama on the water.

Spend time by your local body of water to connect with nature's rhythm. While there, try a stream-of-consciousness writing exercise, allowing your thoughts to flow freely as you listen to the gentle sounds of the water. (Please excuse the little pun-fun.)

These natural settings offers you the opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature, find inspiration in their surroundings, and recharge your creative energies.

5. Journaling

Write about your thoughts and emotions to release stress and gain clarity. Journaling can also help you understand your writing process better. Try one of these suggestions below to help elevate stress in your life.

Gratitude Journaling:

Each day, take a few minutes to write down three things you're grateful for, no matter how big or small. These could be moments of joy, acts of kindness, or simply the beauty of nature around you.

This practice helps shift your focus from negative to positive aspects of your life, reducing stress, improving your mood, and fostering a sense of well-being.

Emotional Release Writing:

Set aside 10-15 minutes to write without judgment or censorship. Let your thoughts and emotions flow freely onto the page, exploring whatever comes to mind.

This exercise provides a safe outlet for processing and releasing pent-up emotions, leading to a greater sense of clarity, relief, and emotional balance.

Positive Affirmation Journaling:

Write down a positive affirmation or mantra that resonates with you, such as "I am worthy of love and respect," and reflect on its meaning for a few minutes each day.

Repeating positive affirmations can help boost self-confidence, reduce self-doubt, and cultivate a more positive mindset, leading to improved mental and emotional well-being.

Processing your thoughts and feelings through journaling can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. This can also lead to a better writing life.

6. Digital Detox

Take regular breaks from screens to reduce eye strain and mental fatigue. Disconnecting can improve focus and creativity. If you could use a break from technology, try one of the suggestions below.

Set Specific Times for Digital Use:

Allocate specific times of the day for using digital devices and avoid them during other times. This can include setting boundaries for work-related digital activities as well as personal use.

Use digital devices only during work hours and switch them off in the evenings. This can reduce distractions and allow for more focused, creative thinking, leading to improved writing productivity and quality.

Unplug for a Day:

Choose a day each week to completely unplug from all digital devices, including smartphones, computers, and tablets. This means no checking emails, social media, or using digital entertainment.

Spend a day engaging in analog activities like reading a physical book, going for a walk, or spending time with loved ones. This can help clear your mind, reduce stress, and stimulate new ideas, enhancing your creativity and overall well-being.

Limit Social Media Use:

Set a daily or weekly limit for using social media platforms and consider using apps or features that track and limit your usage.

Limit social media use to 30 minutes per day. This can free up time for more creative pursuits like writing, reading, or brainstorming. It can prevent feelings of comparison or distraction, allowing you to focus more on your own ideas and voice.

Create Tech-Free Zones:

Designate certain areas in your home or workspace as tech-free zones where digital devices are not allowed.

Create a reading nook or a writing corner without digital devices. This can provide a peaceful environment for writing, free from the distractions of screens and notifications, and encourage deeper thinking and creativity.

Digital-Free Activities:

Engage in activities that do not involve digital devices, such as outdoor activities, hobbies, or creative pursuits.

Take a nature walk, read a physical book, or practice a hobby like painting or knitting. This can stimulate creativity by providing a mental break from screens and allowing your mind to wander and explore new ideas, which can be beneficial for overcoming writer's block or generating fresh perspectives.

7. Healthy Snacks

Fuel your body with nutritious snacks to maintain energy levels and avoid mood swings, which can affect your writing mood. Here are five tips for eating healthy snacks that connect to writing, along with ways you can be inspired by the foods you eat.

Choose Nutrient-Dense Snacks:

When you reach for a snack, opt for snacks that are rich in nutrients to fuel your brain and body.

 Writing Fuel Inspiration: Research the nutritional benefits of the foods you eat and incorporate them into your writing. For example, write a scene where a character enjoys a delicious and nutritious snack, highlighting its positive effects on their energy and mood.

Include Protein and Fiber:

Include protein and fiber in your snacks to help you feel full and satisfied.

Writing Fuel Inspiration: Write about the textures and flavors of the foods you eat, using vivid descriptions to create sensory experiences for your readers. For example, describe the crunchiness of an apple or the creaminess of Greek yogurt.

Limit Added Sugars:

Avoid snacks with added sugars, as they can lead to energy crashes and mood swings.

Writing Fuel Inspiration: Use your snack choices to inspire healthy eating habits in your characters. Write a scene where a character makes a conscious decision to choose a nutritious snack over a sugary treat, showcasing their commitment to health and well-being.

Stay Hydrated:

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and maintain focus.

Writing Fuel Inspiration: Incorporate the theme of hydration into your writing by exploring the importance of water in different cultures or using water as a metaphor for clarity and renewal in your stories.

Incorporate Colorful Fruits and Vegetables:

Include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your snacks to ensure you're getting a range of vitamins and minerals.

Writing Fuel Inspiration: Use the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables to inspire descriptions in your writing. For example, describe a character's outfit using the colors of a fruit bowl, or use the imagery of a colorful salad to describe a lush garden setting.

Now it’s Your Turn

Incorporating these simple mental health tricks into your routine can have a profound impact on your outlook and writing. By taking care of your mental health, you can reduce stress, boost creativity, and enhance your overall well-being. 

These practices can help you stay focused and motivated, overcome writer's block, and approach your writing with a fresh perspective. By prioritizing your mental health, you can cultivate a positive mindset and create a more fulfilling and enjoyable writing experience.

Remember, taking care of yourself is essential for producing your best work! 💖📝 #WriterWellness #WritingCommunity #SelfCareForAuthors

What is your favorite idea for a quick break? Share it with our readers today!

About Kris

Kris Maze

Kris Maze, an education enthusiast with a knack for the written word, has dedicated several years to the world of academia. She writes for various publications including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and award-winning blog Writers in the Storm where she is also a host.

You can find her YA fiction, writing resources, and keep up with her author events at KrisMaze.com. Find her darker, scarier fiction at her sister-site KrissyKnoxx.com.

A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, learning languages, and spending time outdoors where she ponders the wisdom of Bob Ross.

And sometimes she gives away Advanced Reader Copies!

ARC's for my Readers

I am looking for a few readers for my speculative fiction short story collection. Filled with science fiction, horror, other scary stuff, try out my novel that launches in June for free.  Space is limited, so reach out today for your copy.

Scaretastic and Sci-fi Stories Book Cover

Scaretastic and Sci-fi Stories 

Scaretastic and Sci-fi Stories presents a chilling collection of tales that entertain, terrify, and challenge your perception of existence. Venture into the unknown with these twisted narratives that dare you to explore the darker corners of your imagination.

  • Uncover hidden truths in a paradise where reality is a mirage.
  • Confront the curse of a greed-driven ghost in a rural town.
  • Survive beyond the Dome, where secrets can be a matter of life or death.
  • Race against time in a Mustang where betrayal has deadly consequences.
  • Relive the glory days of a teacher's mishap in a cornfield adventure.
  • Risk it all in a futuristic metropolis as an asteroid hurtles towards Earth.

Each story in this collection is a gripping journey that will leave you questioning the boundaries of our world and the depths of human nature. Are you brave enough to take the path less traveled?

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13 comments on “🌟 7 Super Mental Health Hacks for Writers to De-Stress 🌟”

  1. Best quick break I know: playing with the cat or dog---an unparalleled way to bump up against a different point of view. Also, although I don't have a bird, bird owners say they are very social and appreciate company and conversation (maybe even singing duets?).

    1. Anna,
      I agree dog and/or cat energy can boost my writing mojo for sure.

      Just as long as they don't insist on sitting on the keyboard!

    2. Oh, and bird duets? Sounds amazing and fun.

      I've heard that chickens will sit and keep you comoany while you write too. I've never tried it though...

  2. Writing IS my mental health care, my break from reality, my choice of how to spend MY time.

    Not the other way around.

    Maybe because, due to longterm chronic illness, being able to leave daily life and obligations (I try to do as much as I can) behind, and just think about writing and follow my slow but productive process IS the thing that keeps me going.

    Everything else - those breaks that you talk about - cost me time, irreplaceable energy, and contribute nothing to my legacy writing project. I do them when I have to, but they always set me way back as far as doing what I want to do: currently, finishing LIMBO.

    Perspective is everything. Mine is different.

    1. Hi Alicia,
      It sounds like you have had a long struggle and I can appreciate that. That must be difficult.

      Writing for me is often therapeutic as well. The satisfaction of finishing a scene can relieve so many things that could be bothering me.

      Thank you for sharing an important side to writing. Taking breaks can be detrimental to your writing process.

      In the end, its important to know what works best for you and your writing muse.

  3. That box breathing literally got me through cancer and chemo. Every time I had to do stuff that scared me to the bone, where my low blood pressure would skyrocket to 150/90...box breathing is how I'd keep my sh*t together and keep going forward. It totally works.

    1. Jenny,
      You're living proof of tenacity and I can't wait to see your vigilante veteran nun series come to life!

      That's a great testiment to breathing techniques. It's worth trying, right? Pretty harmless.

      Thanks for sharing that.

  4. My way of a tech free zone by hopping in my Jeep and heading out into the hills where there's not cell service!

    My other escape to recharge is volunteering at the Musical Instrument Museum here in Phoenix. Being there never fails to make me happy.

    1. Denise,
      Reading is a great exercise for informed writng. And it can feel like a guilty pleasure! I love these suggestions - thanks!

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