In my post a few days ago, I focused on the topic of self-care. I shared the things I believe I did wrong in caring for myself during my working life and the last few years as a writer. Today I want to share what I've learned along the way (and ignored). And I'll share some new things I have read recently about caring for yourself as you write.
TIPS FOR INCLUDING SELF-CARE IN YOUR DAY
This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. These are tips that work for me IF I remember to use them. If there is something you feel should be in this list, I hope you'll share it in a comment below.
- Remember, self-care is not selfish. To meet the needs of family, friends, and others in our community, we must first care for ourselves.
- A daily schedule which includes a start and stop time for work helps many working folks. When creating a schedule, build in time for exercise and at least 30 minutes for a lunch break.
- Find a way to spend part of your day standing for certain tasks.
- In a two-part installment, Jane Friedman talks about her chronic back pain. She also tells how she recovered from it. Check out these links to learn more: Chronic Back Pain and the Writing Life: A Few Remedies and How I Recovered from 3 Years of Back Pain; and
- Becoming a Stand-Up Writer by Keith Cronin at Writer Unboxed shares two stand-up options. These won't force you to break the bank. I own the first option, but purchased it during my recent problems and haven't been able to stand up to use it. I set mine up on a sewing table which is countertop height and on the opposite wall from my computer desk. Instead of moving the desk option, I move my laptop.
- Taking breaks from sitting to stretch and/or walk around a bit is a good idea. A good thing for both body and mind.
- A recent article in the New York Times Morning Briefing offers a way to do this. The writer advises getting up every hour to walk five minutes. Using a timer, either an app on your computer or somewhere you have to get up and move to turn it off, is helpful. Be diligent as this is one of the things I ignored years ago while working as a legal secretary. It would not have changed the condition as diagnosed. But it would have provided flexibility in my joints and skeleton as a whole.
- In leaving a comment on last week's post, Joan Hall shared a link for Tomato Timer. I checked out Tomato Timer and found it is somewhat like the Pomodoro Technique®. The technique is based on working on a task for 25 minutes and then take a break, say for 10-15 minutes or so. After four sessions, take a longer break (20 minutes), etc.
- NOTE: Neither of these tips may be workable for writers. A screenwriter commented on the NY Times article that he cannot leave his work in this way. Once he's creating a scene and interacting with characters, he can't maintain momentum if he takes a 15-minute break. Others mentioned the same on last week's post here.
- When lifting heavy items, remember to do it correctly. See Mayo Clinic's slide show on Proper Lifting Techniques.
- Last June Zapier posted Productivity and Ergonomics: The Best Way to Organize Your Desk. This is one of the most up-to-date articles I've found. It includes an infographic, diagrams with measurements, and more. The post includes every element of work space--desk, computer, chair, lighting, plants, and color.
A CHALLENGE FOR YOU
Take a few minutes to assess your own working environment, no matter how large or small. It may surprise you to learn what you do or don't find. Then try one or more of the tips above and note any change in physical problems you're experiencing.
If you have tips for work spaces and building better backs, I'd love to see them shared below in Comments.
If you're willing, check back with me to let me know what this post changed for you and what the impact of the change was.
FYI, I have not yet begun employing all the tips I've shared above as I'm still in recovery mode. I'll try to let you know when I do begin practicing what I preach!