Health routines are a trending topic in the wellness world, but did you know that the choices you make surrounding your health can also contribute to your writing routine in positive and negative ways? Just as an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise routine can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated, those unhealthy routines can also negatively impact your writing progress as well.
If your writing routine has become nonexistent or the work you’ve produced recently seems lackluster, review your health routines and spot opportunities for improvement that can ultimately impact and positively change your writing routine.
8 Poor Health Routines Affecting Your Writing
1. Lack of sleep.
Sleep is often the first part of a healthy lifestyle that writers sacrifice. Sure, it seems doable to burn the midnight oil a few days a week to keep up with career and family responsibilities and also contribute to our writing goals. The less sleep we get, however, has a negative effect on our writing because we can experience more irritability, anxiety, forgetfulness, and fuzzy thinking. So, aim to sleep between seven to nine hours per night. If you struggle to get the same amount of sleep each night, set a bedtime for yourself and incorporate a routine that signals to your brain that it’s time to get ready for sleep.
When sitting down for a writing marathon, we often reach for caffeine to keep us clicking away on the keyboard. Yet, drinking caffeine without taking in enough water, we can actually become a bit dehydrated. Not drinking enough water can lead to lower cognitive function, which can make it more difficult for us to write well. Adults should consume at least 64 ounces of water per day, but many experts say we should aim to drink more water than that.
3. Poor diet.
Just like our water intake, the food we put into our bodies can affect our productivity in ways we might not always think about. Writers tend to rely on snacks—crackers, chocolate, cheese, and more—because they don’t involve cooking and keep the hunger pains at bay. With snacking though, we aren’t typically crunching baby carrots or other healthy options. Instead, we reach for comfort food snacks like candy and high carbohydrate foods. Food choices have an effect on our output. Comfort foods will eventually make us sleepy and pull us away from our writing to take a nap. Whereas healthy, whole foods will fuel our bodies and we are able to continue writing without pause.
4. Minimal Exercise.
A lack of exercise can lead to fatigue, weight gain, and a foggy head. Yet, exercise is another activity we typically cut from our lives because we think we don’t have time to do it. When it comes to incorporating more exercise into your routine, aim for 30 minutes each day or a total of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Moving your body releases endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones in your body that leave you feeling energized and can clear your mind for new ideas.
5. Tight muscles.
As writers, we sit a lot. All that sitting leads to tight muscles from our head to our toes, which can make us uncomfortable and put undue physical stress on our bodies. To relieve that muscle tension, incorporate more stretching and yoga into your lifestyle.
6. Lack of fresh air.
It can be a drain on our energy levels to sit inside and work all day. Our bodies crave fresh air and sunshine. The fresh air cleans our lungs and helps us take deeper breaths going forward. Sunlight helps reduce depression and stress, which can improve our moods before we sit down to write. Overall, time spent in nature can make us feel happier and can also lead to a better night’s sleep. If you spend long hours working at your desk inside, maybe try moving your workspace outside when possible or aim to get outside for 30 minutes to an hour each day to reap the health benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
7. Unrealistic expectations.
By nature, writers tend to set unrealistic goals to work toward. Those goals can lead to undue stress and anxiety, which can negatively affect our health and our writing routines. Many times, stress and unattainable goals lead us to quit the task that is causing the stress to begin with. Your goals shouldn’t make you feel like you want to stop writing altogether. So, if needed, reassess your writing goals and pull back where necessary. For example, if you originally told yourself that you were going to write all seven days of the week, back that goal down to only write three or four days a week.
8. Not prioritizing mental rest.
Writing is a mental activity. When we don’t rest our minds enough, we don’t allow our brains the opportunity to recharge. The world is full of attention-grabbing mental drains. Our phones, the TV and radio, work responsibilities and more can all pull on our attention. If you find yourself mentally exhausted all the time, try using a meditation app each day for five to 20 minutes to allow your mind to relax. The more refreshed your mind is, the better your writing can be.
We’d love to hear how you have taken steps to improve your health in order to impact your writing in positive ways. Have you traded a health vice for something better and seen an impact in your writing routine?