How’s your health?
Its winter and we’re in the midst of the serious blahs. The cold weather causes us to eat too much and stay indoors, and read, write and watch movies. Or maybe listening to true crime podcasts, which I’ve been doing a lot more of lately. The winter definitely affects how we feel and how we choose to nourish ourselves and move our bodies. So let’s talk a little about health for writers.
I recently had a physical. The thought of seeing the doctor, and dentist, typically causes me much anxiety. As one gets older, the body begins to break down, and the news is not what it should be. So I was pleasantly surprised this time around to get a good report from my doc. And a good lab result, as well. It put me in a very good mood and I celebrated by ordering a pizza. Bad move.
Writing and reading are serious first world problems. As a novelist, I feel somewhat like an athlete. Maybe a long distance runner. If my mental and physical well-being are not at top level, I’m unable to either task. Writing requires severe mental clarity, as well as being in good physical shape. Sitting in a chair for hours on end can hurt the body and damage one’s sanity. Without either of these two being where they should be, I’m unable to write the way I feel I’m supposed to. So how is that achieved?
Diet. Yes, I really try to watch my diet. Like everyone else, I need to lose my fair share of weight. But I’m finding that as I get older, my level of concentration is very much related to what I put in my body. And what really gives me brain fog is overeating, especially overeating carbs such as wheat and sugar. So I’m trying to severely limit bad carbs and stick with vegetables and other unprocessed foods. Also, I’ve continued a regimen of daily fish oil and vitamin D, which helps keep the mind and body healthy during the cold winter months. It’s also important for writers to limit their alcohol intake, as that will negatively effect your ability to write come morning. Writing with a buzz is not wise, either. These days, I limit myself to one healthy cup of coffee when I sit down to write. Too much caffeine can make you jumpy and irritable, and cause me to make bad writing decisions. Another thing I’ve tried with some success is intermittent fasting. Surprisingly, I find that fasting clears my mind and gives me an amazing sensation of mental clarity.
Exercise. Healthy body, healthy mind. A daily exercise routine has helped me build up my stamina. Feeling good about my body has helped me become more confidante about my writing. An added benefit of exercising is that it is an idea incubator. I often find that plot ideas come to me while I’m on the elliptical machine or lifting weights. Then I can’t wait to get home and jot my idea down. Daily exercise should be in every writer’s repertoire. And it’s a proven fact that mental well-being is a benefit of daily exercise.
Sleep. I used to be able to get by on five or six hour sleep. These days, I find I do better with seven or more. On the weekends, I’ll even sleep in more than usual. A good nights rest has helped me immensely as a writer. Nothing like feeling rejuvenated and refreshed in the morning as you sit down in front of your computer to write. That means limited alcohol and caffeine before bed. Sometimes, I’ll even pop a Melatonin and that helps me close my eyes.
Whether you’re a reader or writer, be good to yourself. Exercise, eat well, and get a great night of sleep. I want you to be alert for all the twists and turns in my new novel, THE PERFECT DAUGHTER (Kensington), which comes out 4/28/2020.
I swim /do aquatic exercises in the heated pool at the Alfond Center 5 days a week. I strongly agree with your take on careful eating as we get older, although I sorely miss my weekly stop at Universal Breads here in Waterville.
You are so right. Exercise helps the creative mind as well as the body. I get some of my best breakthroughs while running. In case some more input on the topic is of interest (I’m a fitness professional as well as a writer), this is a post I did on Ladies of Mystery a couple of years ago that affirms your ideas and explores the relationship between movement and the brain. https://ladiesofmystery.com/2017/12/28/butt-in-chair/