Take It Outside [Healthy Writer]

It’s summer. It’s been summer for about a month now. The weather is warm, the sun is shining (mostly – it’s been raining a lot where I am). It’s time to take advantage of the season and take it outside.

Healthy Writer: Take It Outside | Creative Writing | Work From Home | Blogging | Healthy Habits | RachelPoli.com

Take It Outside

As writers, we’re always on the computer. I know there are quite a few people who prefer pen to paper, but most likely we’re typing something up. Not to mention, a lot of us writers are also bloggers or on some form of social media. We’re on our phone or tablet and constantly getting work done. This is something that I’ve been learning to take a step back from since it’s taken a toll on my mental health.

Have you ever heard of seasonal depression? I’m not diagnosed with depression, just generalized anxiety disorder. However, the two can go hand in hand and there are definitely some days where I feel like I do have depression. I definitely get it the most during the winter. Snowfall is lovely as are putting on fire in the fireplace, but I’m not a fan of the cold and dreariness of it all. I also feel so much better and more like myself when the sun comes out and the weather is warm.

So, this is why I say to take it outside. Take advantage of the sun and warm weather while you can. The winter is a nice excuse to stay inside on the computer all day, but you still need some fresh air once in a while.

Sitting On The Deck

If there’s anything I’ve learned about writing, it’s that a nice change of scenery can go a long way. I love to sit outside on my deck with a pen and notebook. Or sometimes I bring my iPad, laptop, or a book. It all depends on what work I need to get done that day.

The deck is a great place in my backyard because it’s quiet (for the most part) but private. The umbrella is big enough to keep me shaded or I can move it around for myself to sit in the sun. It’s a peaceful place overall.

By The Pool

Unfortunately, I don’t have a pool anymore. It collapsed back in November, rest in peace. That thing was just a couple years younger than me so it lasted a good 20+ years. It served us well.

But I loved to sit out by the pool. We had a patio to sit on plus a swing or I could sit on the deck attached to the pool. When I got too hot, I’d take a quick dip or swim around for a bit. Not only did it give me fresh air and a slight break, but I was also moving around as well.

Don’t Take It Outside

Or, you can forget all of this and just leave your work inside and enjoy the sunshine. Play basketball, ride a bike or go for a walk. I’ve been walking a mile every night lately and it feels great. Plus, if you have a dog, let them get some exercise as well. I’m sure they can’t wait for you to get off the computer at the end of the day so they can play with you.

Do you work outside or just sit outside and soak up the sun in the summer? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Meditation [Healthy Writer]

When it comes to writing, we all need a break every now and then. Not just from the computer and staring at the bright, blank screen, but from thinking as well. That’s where meditation comes in.

Healthy Writer: Meditation | Creative Writing | Healthy Habits | Work from Home | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a practice where you focus your mind and zero-in on a particular thought or clear your mind. It’s a relaxing technique to help you feel calm and get back to life with a clean slate. It’s to make sure your mind is in a stable state.

There are various ways to meditate and you can do it just about anywhere – however, a quiet place where you’re alone is the best option. You can do it for as long or as short as you need it. Sometimes all it takes it a couple of deep breaths to get you back on track.

Why is Meditation Good for Writers?

Meditation is good for writers because we’re constantly thinking all day. We’re staring at a computer screen, we’re arguing with fictional characters. We can hit a bout of writer’s block or we can get interrupted many times throughout the day as we write. Sometimes we have the urge to write and other times we don’t.

Meditation is a great way to step back and look at the whole picture. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the editing process, just take a step back for even five or ten minutes. Take a quick break. And I don’t mean bathroom break. Relax your mind and stretch your body.

Different Ways to Meditate

Close your eyes and breathe

It sounds boring, but it’s honestly not. Sometimes if I get overwhelmed or if I’ve been working for too long, I sit on the floor with my back straight, shoulders back, and close my eyes. I don’t sit for too long. I usually take 5-10 deep breaths – in through my nose, out through my mouth. It rests my eyes, clears my mind, and stretches my back out a bit.

It helps to lie down as well. If you end up falling asleep and taking a nap, then that’s probably a good thing. I feel like sleep is the one thing we tend to give up depending on how busy we are.

Listen to music

Most of us listen to music all the time anyway. We jam out to our favorite songs on Spotify or YouTube. However, sometimes you need to sit back and really listen to the music. I personally like instrumental or classical music. I especially love the violin. If you’re short on time, just listen to two songs. That’s roughly 5-6 minutes anyway.

Take a walk

I know, when you think of “meditation” you think of sitting with your eyes closed and breathing deeply. The truth is, meditation is all around us – as long as we’re relaxing, we’re meditating in our own way.

Taking a walk is a great way to not only clear your mind – because you should be taking in the beauty of nature – but it also gives your legs and back a good stretch. Not to mention the fresh air will do wonders.

Overall

Meditation isn’t as daunting as the word makes it sound. I think we all have one definition of meditation in mind. There are many different forms of meditation – the word and practice come from different places – but not all meditation is the same. Just remember, clear your mind and remember to breathe. Writing isn’t an easy task and neither are the stages that come after.

You’ll get there and you’ll mind will be fresh when you do.

Do you practice any form of meditation? How do you do it? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Taking Breaks [Healthy Writer]

It’s far too easy to get sucked into work. When you’re a creator, you work from home and are on the computer all day. Your back is tired. Your butt hurts. You need to get in the habit of taking breaks.

Healthy Writer: Taking Breaks | Creative Writing | Work From Home | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Get In The Habit

People always say they need to get in a habit with writing. I always say the same thing. Get yourself into a routine, train your body and mind that a certain time is writing time. You should also do the same for taking breaks as well.

There must be a certain amount of time each day where you’re not writing or creating just to let your mind at ease.

Breaks are not only important for your mental health but also for your physical health. There are a number of things I personally like to do when I take breaks.

  • Take a walk with the dog
  • Be outside in the sun
  • Clean the house
  • Dance around or sing obnoxiously
  • Run errands or go for a drive
  • Read a book
  • Play video games

Of course, reading and playing video games is kind of like work as well so I tend to try to do something else if I can.

How I Know When To Take A Break

Usually, when I start not focusing or I begin to get silly (just ask my sister) that’s when I know I need to take a break. A lot of times, and I especially do this when my sister and I are working together, we work for an hour then break for an hour and repeat. It really helps us get a lot done.

I especially like doing things that way because I’m still getting work done throughout the day. Something I need to work on is not feeling guilty when I don’t write or blog. I’ll get up early, work for eight hours, and then if I sit down to watch TV at 6 pm I feel like that’s too early for me to not be working, despite putting in a full day.

So, alternating each hour with work and breaks helps me in the sense that I’m working throughout the day until all my stuff is done or I’m too tired to get anything else done.

Days Off Are Breaks Too

Also, you don’t just need to take breaks throughout the day. You should always give yourself a day or two off each week. My goal is to be able to have Saturdays and Sundays off. Right now I give myself Fridays off and even then I still sometimes get work done. Other than live streaming with my sister, I don’t have to babysit on Fridays (unless I agree to babysit on the occasional Friday) so I do my best to stay off the computer.

My laptop is a trooper, so she definitely deserves a break most days. Not mention, so do my characters.

What do you do during your writing breaks? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Eating Habits While Writing [Healthy Writer]

Eating habits while writing is something difficult to maintain. I don’t know about you, but I will either sit at my computer and eat junk or I’ll get so wrapped up in my work that I’ll forget to eat and be starving by the time dinner rolls around. Neither is good.

Healthy Writer: Eating Habits While Writing | Creative Writing | Writing | Writer Habits | RachelPoli.com

Eating Snacks During Writing

If you’re going to eat while writing, you should be sure to have certain snacks or meals on hand. My favorite snacks are the cheesy ones like flavored-blasted Goldfish. I love other flavored things that get dust and grease all over your hands such as BBQ chips. Eating these things aren’t easy when you’re trying to write.

I don’t want to get my pen, paper, or keyboard all greasy. Yes, I know napkins are a wonderful thing, but I never feel like my hands are truly clean from my snack unless I wash my hands. With that said, if you’re going to eat while you get your writing time done, I suggest not eating those kinds of snacks. Plus, it’s junk food anyway, so if you’re going to eat while sitting at the computer most of the day, you should have a meal or something.

Eating “Meals” During Writing

When I said meals, I don’t mean sit at your computer and eat dinner. You should always take a break and if you live with others, you should eat with them and socialize if you can. But, if you have smaller meals like leftovers or frozen food, eat that for lunch or have a little as a snack while writing. Use a fork or spoon. Eat yogurt. Get something good in your belly without making a mess of your writing space.

Schedule Eating Time

It seems silly to have to “schedule” eating time into your day. But it forces you to take a break and get up and away from the computer. It also gets your stomach in a certain habit of when to be hungry and when not to be hungry.

When I worked at the preschool, I ate breakfast, had snack with the kids at a certain time, ate lunch, went to babysit and had a quick snack while wating for the bus, went home and ate dinner. Sometimes I would have another snack before bed and other times I wouldn’t. But it was a great routine and it helped me eat healthier as well. That was all thrown out the window as soon as I quit my job because now I can eat whatever I want whenever I want.

Needless to say, I need to start eating better again and eat at certain times during the day.

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

To be fair, I have gotten a little better at breakfast. I have my coffee and smoothie. Sometimes I’ll have Cheerios or a bagel. If I’m feeling ambitious I’ll even make myself eggs or something. I have lunch every day, even though that’s my least favorite, because I’ll make lunch for my sister when she comes home for her lunch break. I just need to figure out the middle. Some days I eat constantly while at the computer and other days I forget. Neither is necessarily good.

I’m working on it, okay?

Do you eat while writing or schedule in some breaks to do so? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Scheduling Downtime & Writing Time [Healthy Writer]

When it comes to being a writer, it’s hard to distinguish between writing time, downtime, family time, shower time, and any other time. Scheduling downtime and writing time isn’t easy – especially if you work from home. Home is home but it’s also work and the wires in your brain will get crossed. It’s easy to give yourself just “one more minute” on whatever project you’re working on. Before you know it, you’ve sat on your butt all day and that one minute turned into an extra three hours.

Healthy Writer: Scheduling Downtime and Writing Time | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

The Difference Between Downtime & Writing Time

I have to admit, for a long time I thought my downtime and writing time were one in the same. I love writing and even though I wanted to do it for a living, I told people it was a hobby. It’s a hobby I get to do for a career. So, whenever I wasn’t writing, I wanted to write more.

I would write in the morning, go to work, and then write more when I came home. The writing later was considered my “downtime” because I was writing for work, but it was also for fun as well. Then I realized I was still staring at a computer screen and even if I wrote in a notebook, I was still thinking and working.

So, I decided to tell myself that I wrote before and after work because it was something that needed to get done. My “downtime” was then when I went to work. I worked at a preschool and babysat in the afternoons… that is no downtime. That’s work and it’s a lot of physical activity as well as mental activity. There were no breaks in my day. I wrote, worked, then wrote more which was just a different kind of work.

The Importance of a Schedule

This was one of the reasons I quit my job. I was working myself to the bone and my writing was more important to me. I took a leap and yet, I’m still working myself to the bone.

Now I have all day to write, blog, and do anything else that pertains to my writing career. I’m on the computer a lot. I’m writing novels, writing blog posts or social media posts, I’m creating blog graphics or book covers, I’m doing freelance writing work… there’s no end to it.

I still love it and enjoy it, but there definitely needs to be some sort of line. I need to exercise. I need to get away from the computer. I need to stop thinking about writing or work and have some fun. I need to socialize with my friends and family.

Not only will this help my mind and body, but it’ll help my work in the long run as well. No, I won’t be “working,” but I’ll come back to my work with a fresh take on things.

How To Create Your Schedule

One factor that I used when creating my “work” schedule was when I do my best work but also, when does everyone else work? I don’t want to lounge around the house while everyone else is at their jobs and then, when they get home and are buzzing around the house, making dinner, and wanting to watch a movie or something together, I don’t want to respond with, “Sorry, I have to work.”

Lucky for me, everyone works in the morning and comes home in the afternoon and I happen to do my best work in the morning. I’m more awake at that time. So, that’s why I’ve created my schedule to write in the very early morning while everyone else is just waking up and getting ready for work. Then I get my blogging and such done during the day when everyone else is at work.

Time Blocking & Breaks

Of course, I don’t work straight through the day. I take a break in between my writing and blogging times. I usually get my workout done then as well as shower and do the dishes. Then I get another few hours in before settling down for an hour of lunch. Once lunch is over, I babysit for a couple of hours. When I get home, I sometimes will do another hour or two of work or I’ll just eat dinner and chill for the rest of the night either playing video games, watching a movie, reading a book, or whatever.

Give Yourself A Day Off

Seriously, even though taking breaks throughout the day is helpful, giving yourself at least one day off a week is needed. I tend to use Fridays as my day off and I’ll catch up on some reading or clean the house. I tend to stay away from the computer if I can help it. A full day’s rest is needed after wearing many different hats throughout the week. Eventually, I would like to give myself Saturdays and Sundays off and only work the five days a week, but we’ll see.

Overall

The only person who can fit a schedule to your needs perfectly is you. Getting into the routine can be tough and you may have to do trial and error before you find a great schedule that works for you. But it’s worth it. It’s needed for your body and for your mental health. No one can be on social media 24/7. No one can sit on their butt all day long. Do yourself a favor, a prioritize your health. No, there aren’t enough hours in the day. But life is short and those hours should be spent with loved ones and not constant work.

How do you schedule your downtime and writing time? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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9 Ways To Keep Yourself Moving Throughout The Day [Healthy Writer]

Sometimes it’s hard to get started on writing. You sit and stare at the blank screen or you’ll get up and wash the dishes or take that shower you meant to take three days ago. Your best ideas come in the shower anyway, right?

On the other hand, you can begin writing and get into the groove with it. You can sitting at your computer for hours typing out words, brainstorming ideas, or setting up marketing plans. Whether you’re writing creatively, for a blog, researching, or what have you – it can be hard to snap back into the world around you.

As a writer, you need to keep moving. You need to peel your eyes away from the glowing screen from time to time. Stretch your legs. Arch your back. Let your butt relax.

This is difficult to remember, especially if you work from home and have very little distractions during the day. However, there are more distractions than you think and some of them you should pay attention to.

Healthy Writer: 9 Ways To Keep Moving Throughout The Day | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

Give your pet(s) some attention.

If the dog is barking or the cat begins climbing up your leg, maybe it’s time to give them some attention. Save your work and leave your seat. Throw a ball around with the dog. Play with her. Take her for a walk. Unless it’s winter, then don’t bother to go outside. Play until the dog gets tired and doesn’t feel like playing anymore. Or just play for 15-20 minutes. It’ll give your pets some love and you’ll be able to get up and moving. Chances are, when you get back to work, the cat will be curled up on your desk chair.

Take a walk.

This one is kind of obvious. With or without the dog, go for a walk around your neighborhood. The air will feel refreshing and the sun will make you happy. Plus, there might be a neighbor or two out that you can chit-chat with. Either take a walk with them or just say hi and make small talk. I know we all shy away from socializing of any kind unless it’s on the Internet but trust me – real people can make you feel good.

Have a workout routine.

This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I personally watch a couple of YouTube videos. The trainer keeps me company and, when I learn the routine myself, I put on some good music or a different YouTube video to watch and keep me company. This will wake up your body and get you moving and stretching before you decide to sit back down at the computer and work for a few more hours. If you have the money and want an excuse to get out of the house, join a gym and go there for a hour a couple times a week.

Get some chores done.

There’s a lot jokes about writers and how they forget to shower and do the dishes. I mean, I kind of made a shower joke at the beginning of this post. The sad thing is, it’s true. I’ve actually forgotten to take a shower because I keep telling myself, “just one more thing on the to-do list.” Then I need to tell my sister, “I call dibs on the shower in the morning because I haven’t taken one since Monday… and it’s Thursday.” Good thing I work from home, huh? But showering is one thing. You can vacuum, do the dishes, clean the fish tank, anything. As long as you’re up, moving, and away from the computer screen, it works. Not to mention, you’ll get a clean house out of it too.

Dance.

Seriously, if you work from home and everyone else is at their own respective jobs out of the house – blast that music and bust a move. This may seem like kind of a random option, but this job is overwhelming. It’s stressful. Dancing and listening to loud music will relieve some of that. It’ll make you feel good, crack a smile, and have fun. It’s a great break from the computer and it’ll get your body moving. It’s doesn’t matter if you can dance or not – just pick up the dog or cat (provided they don’t run from you) and start dancing.

Block your time.

There’s always so much to do and it never seems like there’s enough hours in the day. Blocking your time throughout the day – meaning a schedule or routine – is a great way to make sure you get your work done but also have some time to yourself. Tell yourself you’ll only work from nine in the morning until noon. Then you’ll take a lunch and do other things for a while. Maybe you can get back to work again after dinner and write for another hour or two to end the night. Not only will you not be stuck in front of the computer all day, but you’ll train your brain to get into a creative mode at certain times.

Make to-do lists.

Don’t give yourself too much to do during one day, but making a to-do list should help you keep track of what you need to get done, what you want to get done, and also spread out your day a bit. Add three writing tasks on the list as well as a couple of chores that should get done. Alternate between writing and the other tasks to get yourself up and moving. Unless something is time sensitive or you’re on a roll, then get it all done in a clump. Still, make sure you find the time to move.

Take breaks.

Try not to sit for longer than an hour or two. Sure, there are a lot of blog posts to write and you need to write the ending to your novel, but there will be time for that. Take frequent breaks in between the work. Not only will your body thank you, but your mind will as well.

Take a day off.

If I can, I always try to take Fridays off. I don’t typically go on my computer in the morning. This is the day I catch up on reading, video games, and clean the whole house. I try not to let my mind think too much. It’s always a long week filled with work, writing, family, and friends that I try to take Fridays mornings (while everyone else is at work) to myself. No emails, no social media (for the most part). I also use this day to run any errands I may have too. I’ll admit, sometimes I find myself doing things on Fridays, but it’s not as much as I would during the other days. Taking a whole day off is great and it’s needed.

About The Healthy Writer Series

At the beginning of the month, I mentioned a couple new features coming to the blog. Healthy Writer is one them. I’ve been working from home for almost two years now and it’s still hard to find that balance to between work and life, between sitting and standing, between staring at the computer screen and getting up and moving. I wanted to talk a little more about this since it’s something I need to work on and I’m sure there are other writers out there who could work on it as well.

This series will be posted once a month with various advice and experiences about keeping yourself healthy physically and mentally while we all work creatively. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Whether you work from home or not, what do you do to keep yourself moving? What do you do to give your body a break from the computer or writing? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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