Balance · Writing

Writing and Wellness

Are the two related?

Answer: absolutely! How can we expect our brains to consistently produce creative and interesting writing ideas if our bodies aren’t prepared to supply us with energy and focus? We can’t, to put it simply. In order to be the absolute best writers (and people) that we can possible be, we must practice the art of wellness and self-care.

What exactly does “wellness” consist of?

Merriam Webster defines wellness as “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal”. Hear that? Wellness is not just a state of being, but a goal! It is a goal we should all be striving for. But what does wellness entail? What sorts of pursuits contribute to your overall wellness? It isn’t just physical wellness and health we’re talking about here. Being physically healthy will certainly affect our writing for the positive, but there’s more to it. To practice wellness, you must take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually! If you are constantly working towards balance in your life and wellness in these areas, it is my fervent belief that your writing will be better for it. As well, your daily life will significantly improve.

How can we tackle each aspect of wellness?

1) Physical Wellness

When I was 18, I started paying extra attention to my diet and exercise habits. At the time, I was on a very strict diet given by a doctor that included eliminating several food groups. After a year on this diet, I got underweight and had to start the long road of trying to gain weight the healthy way. Ever tried that? It’s harder than you think. Fast forward to the next three years or so. I somehow found a balance in my strange diet that my doctor approved. I maintained a healthy weight during this time, walked a lot, and started my martial arts training and yoga practices. Then, I got married. As most people know, when you get married, you get happy, and you EAT. So, I made it to the highest weight of my life–which , thankfully, is not obese or even overweight, but it is more than I would like it to be. At the same time, I began to have trouble with that balance of physical health in my life. How have I started changing my habits for the better? Through several practices:

>>Lose It!: This is a very helpful food journaling app that can keep track of your calorie consumption, exercises, and weight loss over time. It was recommended to me by the lovely Savannah of Maiedae. I have chosen to opt out of the account-based set-up where you can interact with friends and the community. I do much better when I am single-focused and not distracted by those elements. However, if that works for you, go for it! As well, there are lots of other really great food logging applications and websites out there! Check ’em out!

>>Reserving Sweets and Junky Treats for “S” days: I came across the No S Diet some years ago. While I don’t always stick to this perfectly, I really like reserving my sweets and junky treats for S days (which are Saturday, Sunday, or “special” days). It helps me to practice moderation and limit my sugar consumption by a huge margin. Also, I am trying to limit myself to two S treats per week. For some of us, sugary and salty treats are a major stumbling block. Limiting your access to them is a VERY smart idea. It allows you to enjoy them occasionally, but it takes them out of your normal life.

>>Finding exercises I can commit to and practice for life: I hate going to the gym. H.A.T.E. it. So I don’t go. BUT! I still try to exercise 4-5 times a week. How can you exercise without a gym? Plenty of ways. I discovered an intense passion for yoga and martial arts in college. Currently, I train two nights a week in Taekwondo and Hapkido (I do them both each night). As well, I am *really* trying to make an effort to wake up and do yoga in the mornings. I adore both of these types of exercise and would do them anyway, even if they weren’t good for me. They are fun, relaxing, and help me to learn valuable skills. I also love to walk and hike, and I try to do one of those once a week. Find exercises that you ADORE and would do even if they weren’t considered exercise. If you love to rock climb, go rock climbing! If you love to dance, go dance! Find what makes you happy in exercise and stick with it!

>>Have personal goals: Exercise and eating healthy requires motivation. It is difficult. It would be nice if being physically fit were easy and required little attention, but it doesn’t. Our bodies were designed to run on good, clean fuel, and to move around a lot! Don’t want to commit to a designated diet or program? No problem, but make goals for yourself. For instance, my exercise goals include: develop a daily yoga practice, and become a black belt in both Hapkido and Taekwondo. These goals won’t be over once I achieve them. I have to stick with them for life in order for them to be worthwhile. With food, instead of sticking to one diet or program, I make it a goal to include more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein into my diet. I make it a goal to avoid sugar. Goals are not dreams. You have to work at them. Dreams are often not turned into goals and then are not achieved. If you turn your dreams into goals, they become realizable!

2) Emotional Wellness

Many of us can be very negative about ourselves–whether it be towards our abilities or self-image. That simply won’t work–especially if you intend to be a successful writer. In order to be successful in the writing world, you MUST believe in yourself enough to push yourself to greater things! You are worth the chance. You are worthy of love and respect. You are beautiful. Even if you think it is utter nonsense, start speaking these living phrases to yourself. You’d be surprised how much it can lift your mood. As a religious person, I find my strength in key Scripture passages or remembering to “speak life” about myself. If I am constantly negative about myself and my skills, I am setting myself up for failure. If I start believing good things will happen to me and start believing I can work towards them, my outlook will change–and so will my circumstances! Try writing down inspirational or positive affirmations and putting them around your desk where you work. I keep certain phrases on my desk that help me to think positively about life. Writing is hard. Trying to become an author is difficult. You have enough challenges. Don’t  be your own stumbling block. Be your own best friend and support! You know yourself better than anyone and it is up to you to feed yourself good, positive messages.

3) Mental Wellness

As we grow older, our brains don’t make connections or learn new things as easily as they did when we were children. In order to stay creative and healthy, we have to engage our minds in meaningful activities. This can be accomplished by developing hobbies like knitting, crocheting, or other crafts that require intricate patterns and small motor movements. As well, for the video gamers out there, games with lots of puzzles, defense strategies, or mysteries to solve can be extremely helpful in developing your decision-making skills and hand-eye coordination. Don’t care for games or crafts? Pick up Sudoku or word searches. Do SOMETHING that keeps your mind active. Also, probably the best benefits can come from READING. Reading is excellent for your brain. Pick up a book and get going!

4) Spiritual Wellness

As a Christian, spiritual wellness is top priority for me. Since I was twelve, I have participated in a daily devotional quiet time with God. This practice has honestly shaped much of my life and continues to bring me peace, comfort, and joy. Your spirit must be fed just like any other aspect of your wellness. Find time to be alone during part of the day. Pray. Meditate. Find comfort in finding time alone, spent in reading meaningful Scriptures, or books that edify your own personal journey. I, myself, love to recite the liturgies from Celtic Daily Prayer, read verses, and books that discuss spiritual growth or theology. If you don’t have a personal walk with the Lord or are of another religion, spiritual health is STILL extremely important. Start trying to think about your own spirituality to help you balance yourself. Spiritual health centers the rest of our life. It MUST be given priority.

What can it do for our writing?

If you bring those 4 areas of wellness into balance and consistently work on each of them every day, I think you’d be surprised by a surge of creative juices in your work. If our inner selves are healthy and well, our work, as an extension of ourselves, will greatly benefit. For writers, this might mean you are able to write more words each day or are better able to plan ahead for later scenes. You might even come up with your next few novel ideas! Whatever the benefits happen to be, I assure you they will come if you can bring the rest of your life into focus. Your are important. Self-care can sometimes feel like selfishness, but it isn’t. If you can take time to care for yourself properly in the four areas listed above, you will become a better person. You will be more fun to be around and you will be more productive and potentially successful. Give this whole wellness thing a shot! You may be surprised how much self-care can change your life and your perspective!

Action Plans

Don’t have a good, clear idea about what to do next? Take each item of wellness under introspective consideration. Sit and think about what you do in each of those areas already, what you would like to be doing, and jot down some ideas about how you could go about getting started. Look for local resources in your town. Maybe find a personal trainer, nutritionist, counselor, or wellness buddy! You don’t have to be alone in your journey unless that helps you to be more successful (and for some people, it might!) Find the time to care for yourself. If you are going to be a best-selling author, you must have the confidence, security, and self-love to believe you can do it!

I hope this post on writing and its connection with wellness was helpful to you! If you have any other great ideas on how to practice self-care, please share them below! We are all in this life thing together! Let’s support and encourage one another!

Thanks for stopping by!

~L.M.

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6 thoughts on “Writing and Wellness

  1. Gosh, don’t spend all your creative mojo on the blog. Save some for the book!

    From your suggestion, I have downloaded “Lose It” and will try it out for a few weeks. I’ve never kept a food diary. Should be interesting.

    I’m still trying to figure out what a 24-year-old knows about getting older, but I do know that finally getting an exercise program going has really helped my mental acuity.

    1. Haha! I’ve tried three food logs and so far, I like LoseIt! A lot. Strangely, I also like that it gives you the option of NOT participating in the community aspect of it. A lot of that stuff distracts me and I like just having the ability to log it and move on. 🙂

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