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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.