Heading

Heading

Friday, March 22, 2013

WRITERS' HEALTH

My writing friend, Eleni Konstantine (Helen to those who know her well), has some advice for writers - good advice. We spend a lot of time sitting down for "just one more email" or "one more peek at Facebook and then I'll go and..."

Here's what she has to say:


Looking after yourself
by Eleni Konstantine

You do, right? Or are you like most people and run yourself to the ground trying to keep up with the hectic pace that is the 21st century?
The latter probably.
I’m a great believer in telling people to look after themselves. But do I do the same? The answer is sometimes, because I have to. I have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and I know that I will crash if I don’t have breaks. One thing that CFS has taught me, I can’t go weeks without looking after myself as I once did. Probably a reason for the onset of it.
So what can we do to look after ourselves?

Nap or Meditate
I love my afternoon naps and have them most days. It helps me reenergise. Can’t get to sleep? Don’t worry. Use that time just to close your eyes and relax. I can’t meditate properly as I tend to fall asleep and that’s okay. I think it’s my body’s way of letting me know I need the sleep.

Move
Move away from the computer. I find that I move a lot more during the day than at night, where hours can pass as I sit at the computer. During the day, I put laundry on to remind me to move. When it’s time, I empty one load and fill the machine with another. But at night, I put the alarm on the computer or listen out for the computer voice telling me the time on the hour.  I do move - some of the time.

Exercise
I feel better on the days I exercise. Endorphins are released and the body benefits from the movement. I haven’t managed to get into a proper routine yet (CFS is awful for setting routines) but when I did exercise regularly, I felt much better and I was more productive. Of course finding an exercise you enjoy is the key. I go to Curves as it suits me the best and do Tai Chi.

Necessary ‘Pampering’
I need to have remedial massage every so often (ouch!), because it does help the muscles and movement. I have reflexology on occasion, and also chiropractor and acupuncture appointments more frequently. Basically it’s me listening to what my body (and brain) needs.  So work out and try to work it into your schedule once a month.

Read
I truly believe reading feeds the soul. (see my blog post on Musa here - http://musapublishing.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/reading-feeds-soul.html)
It helps to reenergise and let our imagination run wild, and our inspiration and muse spark off as well.

Vege out
I watch TV, but I tend to watch it when I’m so tired I can’t read. I love stories and this is just the visual form. I tend to record things and watch when I’m in the mood or have an hour or so that I want to relax and not think about anything but what’s in front of me. Currently episodes of Son of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire are waiting for me. Both amazing shows with such complex characters.

Drink water
Remember to have that water bottle on your desk. I find it better than grabbing a glass of water because I’m likely to drink more. However, if you are good, you can use the refill of the glass for ‘moving’ as discussed above.

Eat regularly
My biggest downfall. I don’t eat regularly nor have a proper breakfast - though I’ve been trying to fix that. Because I don’t have a set routine this isn’t easy for me. If you’re hungry (even if you don’t know it), your brain doesn’t operate at full capacity and you can’t concentrate on your work. And eating brain food helps. Bananas, anyone?

Commune with Mother Nature
Being outside - even if it’s in your front or back yards helps us get out of that funk that we can get when we’ve been too long inside. I always feel better for it even if it’s for a short while. It’s been hot here in Australia so this hasn’t been doable lately. I love the beach, and don’t mind going and sitting on a bench and staring at the waves. Or even going for a walk to the local park.

Hanging out with kids or pets
Kids live in the moment, and as adults we tend to think in the past or the future. They have boundless energy and love doing all sorts of activities. I draw and play board games with my godson. It’s an enjoyable time and ultimately the kids will say something that is hilarious, so it’s always fun.
My dog is the same - lives in the moment and loves to play ALL the time. That unconditional love and companionship is just priceless.

All the above do help - if we can get them into the routine. It’s a work in progress for me.
Maybe we need to schedule looking after ourselves into our diaries? What do you think?

Eleni Konstantine is Fantasy and Paranormal fiction writer, with a number of shorts published. Her stories range from flash fiction to novels. She blames her mother for her writing bug because as a child she was given many books, including illustrated fairytales. That and a love of Greek mythology, and Eleni was destined to become a writer.

Eleni lives in Adelaide, Australia, with her family and feisty American Staffy.

You can find Eleni at her website - http://elenikonstantine.com and her blog – http://eleni-konstantine.blogspot.com.

43 comments:

  1. I love mid-day naps! So good for my brain and my writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sara, they are the best. I loved it when I went to Greece and most people had a siesta in the afternoon.

      Delete
  2. Hmmm, I guess I need to do more to take care of my health. Thanks Eleni for the tips!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great tips, Eleni. We need to put looking after 'us' higher on our list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's something about doing things for ourselves that most of us think 'selfish' instead of a necessity.

      Delete
  4. Thanks for the reminders, Eleni. We oftn know what we should be doing to take care of ourselves, and then go right out and do the opposite! A great checklist to print & reread periodically.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks KM. I totally agree. Looking after yourself is something we say to others but don't heed so much ourselves because 'we'll get around to it.'

      Delete
  5. Love these! We authors certainly need to learn to take care of #1! Cheers for an awesome post, Eleni!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon, we certainly do. I should also put on the list your advice about being positive.

      Delete
  6. Great Advice! Thanks for the reminder! As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to go do what my body is telling me it needs right now - sleep! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I rely on my dog to get me away from the computer for our daily walks. I don't know what I'd do without him to remind me to get up and out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're more likely to move because it's for the dog :)

      Delete
  8. Advice from my physiotherapist (plus Eleni's great suggestions): get up every hour, yes, every hour; press hard backwards on the chin ten times each hour while resisting with neck muscles (releases tension stored in neck and shoulders);make very sure of correct rightangles at knees and hips - which means something behind the mid spine to avoid slumping. Hope this helps.
    Frances

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Frances. I know how much stretching helps our bodies and am always sore when I don't stretch as often or as much. cheers!

      Delete
  9. One of my daughter's friends had CFS and it is a much misunderstood condition, better these days, but back then, she had an exceptionally difficult time making herself heard and understood.

    As for the breakfast issue - I like to think of breakfast as appropriate to whatever time happens to be the first meal of the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, yes, CFS has been better understood in recent years instead of 'all in the mind'. I hope she is feeling better. And good thinking re breakfast. I'll have to keep that in mind.

      Delete
  10. Hi Helen,
    So right about trying to keep away from the computer. That slumped over position is so bad for the posture. I use a back block to reverse those effects and it really opens up the spine and gets all the crunched together bones to separate and let the fluids in between (my terminology, lol. Not sure my physio would approve but you get the drift!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I so do get the drift. It's that crunch feeling and I think the release of lactic acid which can build up in the muscles. I have one of those rollers but alas it's not getting much use recently. I think I have to go back to basics.

      Delete
  11. Great blog and very useful advice. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Fantastic advice. Lord give the wisdom to follow them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, Mona. We do need some help following what's good for us.

      Delete
  13. Love these suggestions. I'm glad I follow most of them.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great advice! Now I need to start doing MORE of them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck following more of them, Alex. But great that you are doing some of them.

      Delete
  15. Wonderful advice, Eleni! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great advice, Eleni! I can't take afternoon naps. Makes me groggy, but I do workout five days a week, in the mornings, varying my routines to keep me movitaved and work different muscles. I also spend time outside each day with the family dog. I read whenever I get the chance, though I'd like to spend more time at it and I take time to just veg out, mostly at night, watching old movies, baseball games in season, and a few TV series I like.

    We do have a 16-month old granddaughter that we see each day. She keeps me laughing and is full of energy. Just watching her dance around the room is a trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know others who are the same re feeling groggy, but as you've shown it's a matter of finding what's right for you. And I can picture the joy your granddaughter would bring. It's such a joy to watch kids delight in life.

      Delete
  17. I love my chiropractor. I've been seeing her for years. I sit at a computer 10-12 hours a day and I find seeing her every few weeks to get the knots out of my neck & shoulders makes a big difference. I wish I would/could find more time for myself, but this is one thing I will not give up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never give it up, Charlotte. I too love my chiro. A fellow patient called him Mr Magic Fingers and I do find that after I have a treatment, I have the best naps.

      Delete
  18. Great advice, Eleni.
    I'm like you and use a range of therapies to keep moving freely so I can keep writing eg physiotherapy, acupuncture, remedial massage, and yes, lots and lots of naps for the CFS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A fellow CFSer. Yep you get it, Suzi. If we don't do any of these, we would be in a heap for A LOT longer. Keep looking after yourself!

      Delete
  19. I adore massage and schedule one every 4 weeks. It's MY time. I also have a great chiropractor and go about 3 weekly if required.
    But stopping and smelling the roses - so to speak - i'm the world's worst at that, i really struggle to stop and take real time out.

    Jane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so hard to smell the roses, Jane because it's so go, go, go. So maybe after your massage, take a little bit of extra time and grab a coffee and relax somewhere. Don't get caught up in the go, go, go for a little while. I hope you find some more time for you and the roses.

      Delete
  20. Great post Eleni. I *try* to remember to do most of those things, but we all need reminding :) In fact, I think it's time for me to step away from the computer right now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We definitely DO need reminding. It's like we forget to look after ourselves. It's an afterthought unfortunately. And yes, step away from the computer. I'm just about to do that shortly. :)

      Delete
  21. So much good advice, Eleni. I try and be "good" at least half the time. One certainly fells better for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good girl, Beverley for trying to be 'good'. Half the time is better than no time at all. Keep it up!

      Delete
  22. Great post, Helen. I try to remember to move, eat, exercise and drink water. I don't succeed nearly as much as I need to. lol

    ReplyDelete