8 simple health and self-care tips for writers that you can’t miss

Thankfully there isn’t anything inherently unhealthy about being a writer, but focusing so much on work that primarily happens inside our heads while our bodies are mostly staying sedentary can have detrimental effects on our health.

.

But fear not, you don’t have to worry about your body falling apart because of your next best-selling novel after you’ve read these self-care and health tips for writers. (Just don’t work on your novel in a coal mine, okay?)

What is “health” anyway?

Let’s just make something clear first: the definition of “health” is different for everyone. For example, chronically ill people might never be healthy by common standards, and with genetic conditions you can’t just do all the right things and become healthy. What you CAN do is take care of your body to the best of your abilities and respond to your physical and mental needs however different they might be from someone else.

Many people also don’t have the privilege of neglecting themselves and still being able to function normally and participate in society. Personally I’m not disabled, but I’ve suffered from sciatica for many years now and I simply don’t have the option to sit at a desk for several hours per day. I need to look after myself before I can do any writing at all, so I just want everyone to be mindful of the people for whom these things are NECESSITIES and not just helpful tips.

So with that in mind, let’s dive in.

You may work with your MIND but you need to take care of your BODY too

Don't neglect this if you're a writer

You might think that things like exercise, mobility or strength are things unrelated to your life because you do creative work with your mind, but I’d just like to remind you that your mind actually lives inside your body (at least when you’re awake). Shocking, I know.

No matter how dedicated you might be to your work, it’s always better, in the long run, to remember that physical exercise is really great for preventing future ailments. Even a modest exercise routine like doing some walking every day is better than nothing, and you don’t need to be a fitness influencer to enjoy going to the gym or doing pilates. Physical exercise, if you’re able to do it, can also help you boost your immunity, which will come in handy if you don’t enjoy writing with a sinus infection.

Don’t spend all day sitting if you can avoid it

Being active does have one caveat, though: it doesn’t undo the damage of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. Even if you take an hour out of your day to exercise, it also matters what you do with the rest of the 23 hours of the day.

So what, exactly, should you do about that? If you’re able to move about with your own legs without undue exhaustion or damage, you should do that as often as possible. Get up at least once an hour from your computer to walk around a little, do a little dance, stretch your legs. If you’re able to do something standing up, do it. Whatever you decide to do, don’t get discouraged just because you can’t get yourself a standing desk straight away – even small changes will be beneficial to you.

Even if getting up isn’t an option for you, move the parts of your body that you can. Do circles with your wrists and your shoulders, wiggle your toes or move your head up and down and from side to side.

Keep hydrated (not with coffee)

Don't forget to hydrate your writing sessions

If I’ve just made you get up from your writing station every now and then, you might as well go fill that glass of water. No, step away from the coffee maker, you’ve already had two cups today. WATER, I said.

I understand, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your work that you forget to drink anything, but it’s not going to do you any good. If you down your daily eight glasses of water at once, guess what, your body is just going to let them flush through you and it won’t help your hydration at all.

Some people say that coffee actually has a negative effect and makes you dry out, and while that isn’t completely true, you can’t let the delicious bean liquid be the only source of hydration for you. If nothing else seems to work, get a huge bottle of water in your favourite colour and pledge to empty it during your writing marathon, one sip at a time.

Writing in notebooks with a cup of tea

Eat healthy snacks

Something that happens to me a lot is that I get so wrapped up in writing that I don’t realise it’s time to eat until I’m RAVENOUS. Not good, friends.

If you know you’re going to be intensely focused on your writing, make sure you have some healthy snacks at hand. I know, I love chocolate and crisps too, but the sugar and salt content adds up really fast. On top of that, wouldn’t you rather enjoy your treats when you can actually focus on their delicious flavours? Try not to munch on Snickers bars when you can barely tell if you’re eating the wrapper or the chocolate – save it for when you’re winding down from your writing session.

Think of your posture and work ergonomically

Are you hunched over your laptop or your smartphone as you’re reading this? Are you ALWAYS like that?

If your body is generally healthy, it might take you longer to realise your working position is completely out of whack, but you can count on it that eventually it will catch up to you. Back and neck issues as well as wrist pain are common with people who spend a lot of time on the computer, and you can try to eliminate some of those problems by adopting a better ergonomy for your workspace.

And don’t forget to stretch!

Even if you have the perfect posture while you’re tapping away at your keyboard or scribbling soulful notes in your favourite notebook, it still doesn’t hurt to do some stretching. You don’t need to become more flexible, you just need to take care of your body’s mobility.

If you feel like you really don’t have the time for that or to even figure out what it means, I’m happy to tell you DocJenFit has a fantastic Youtube channel, and this playlist of mobility exercises includes a lot of videos that are less than a minute long. Just choose a body part that feels a little stiffer than it should and watch a relevant video. (It’s your shoulders, isn’t it?)

Empty your mind at least once a day

We’ve talked a lot about physical health here, but we shouldn’t forget our minds either. If you’re anything like me, you’ve constantly got new ideas in your head and you can’t stop thinking about all the wonderfully creative things you’ve come across during your day on top of all the boring human stuff we all have to deal with. But you know what? That’s not so great for your creativity.

I’m not suggesting you start meditating every day, though that would certainly be beneficial for so many people, I’m just saying that you need some quiet time from yourself. Allow yourself to get bored and don’t try to constantly do something, and for a moment focus on just existing. It’s okay that you can’t quiet your constant stream of thoughts – just notice your thoughts and let them go. It’s like decluttering for your brain.

And please, for the love of everything holy, stop the constant content stream. I know your wireless earphones are super cool but you don’t need to listen to something every second of every day. You will never catch up on all your podcasts, Youtube videos and audiobooks so don’t even try – give yourself a break or else your brain has zero space for new ideas.

(P.S. Click here if you’re interested in reading more about creativity and mental health.)

30-Day Writing Challenge - 30 days of unique writing exercises

Remember to chill

Sometimes it feels like a writer’s work is never done, there will always be new books to write and new stories to tell. But dude, you need to learn to take a break, too.

Constantly working is not healthy and being busy is way too glorified. Working with deadlines and one-star reviews is also stressful AF, even if being a writer in itself doesn’t sound very stressful, and there’s no shame in admitting that. Occasional stress is unavoidable and you’re more than likely equipped to deal with it, but you also need time without the stress unless you want to start getting physical symptoms from it. And even if you’re just writing for fun, your creativity and literally everything else in your life will benefit from rest and from having fun sometimes.

We writers also love to tell stories of how we’ve been burning the midnight oil while working on our epic novel, and sometimes that’s okay, but you can’t spend all your life that way if you don’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep doesn’t just lead to being a little tired, it’s also detrimental to your health and your precious brain functions, so if you’re planning to be here for a good time AND for a long time, I recommend you go catch those Z’s.


What are your favourite self-care tips for writers? Which ones of these are you planning to implement next? Tell us in the comments!


Tell us what you think

Skip to content