6 Health Problems Common with Writers
Writing is a pretty laid-back career path. You get to do what you love from the comfort of your home and earn a living while doing it. Although there are tight deadlines you need to meet; you still have a flexible schedule for when you can get to work. However, having a writing career is not a piece of cake. It has its own set of challenges because it also puts your health at risk.
This lifestyle requires you to sit in front of the computer screen for long periods of time. This can then affect you both physically and mentally. Even though the health complications are mostly minor, if not dealt with, they can become worse and put your life at risk. In this article, we will highlight some of the common health problems you might be exposed to as a writer. We will also tell you how to minimize the risks to make writing enjoyable and safe.
You might not realize it, but writing can cause harm to your muscles. Some people might look at you funny if you were to complain of sore muscles, after all, it’s not like you’re working at a construction site. However, being a writer doesn’t make you unsusceptible to muscle pain. In fact, you might feel pain in your back, shoulders, wrists, or arms after an extensive writing session. This usually happens because you are writing while in an uncomfortable position, which then puts your muscles under unnecessary pressure.
There are a couple of reasons why you can develop this health complication. It can be that you usually write while sitting in an uncomfortable chair. Or, it can be because of the repetitive motions of your wrist and body as you type. There are various types of musculoskeletal disorders that you could experience at some point in your writing career.
1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
One of the most common health issues is the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome. There’s a lot of wrist action involved while writing endlessly day and night, so it’s no wonder your wrist will start acting out. The pain usually gets worse at night when one is about to go to bed. In some severe cases, the hands will even start to get numb. The reason behind this is basically that the nerves become damaged due to the repetitive tasks the wrist does.
If this ever happens to you, all you need to do is roll your wrists as you write to prevent the accumulation of pressure. Furthermore, you could wear support straps or use a padded keyboard while writing to avoid this.
2. Tendon Disorders
Your arms and shoulders, like most other parts of the body, have tendons that can wear and tear when they perform repetitive movements continuously for long periods. Such as when you write. Hence, you shouldn’t make it worse by sitting in a chair that doesn’t support your weight evenly. So, how do you know that you are writing in the wrong posture or chair? Mostly by feeling some pain or discomfort in your spine, shoulder, back, or neck after writing for a while.
If you are already experiencing this, you can rectify it by finding time to take breaks and moving around. It will help your body release some of the pressure and relieve the pain. Moving around also encourages blood circulation in your body and reduces stress on the tendons.
For every half-hour spent writing, you should take a 1-3 minute break. As a writer, it is easy for you to become engrossed in what you are doing and forget to take these breaks. The best thing to do is to set an alarm to ensure you remember. It will not only do your muscles some good but will also allow you to rejuvenate and get new ideas for your content. A break might be what you need to get your creative juices flowing and produce amazing content.
Another way for you to make writing easier is to get a vertical desk that will allow you to write as you stand. You will find yourself moving about more often than when using a chair. Aside from ensuring no pressure accumulates in the wrong places, it will also help you to stay fit and avoid any other complications that arise due to uncomfortable postures.
As a professional writer, most of your time will be spent sitting in front of your computer screen. For this reason, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you might develop eye and vision problems at some point. For instance, gazing at the screen for a long time without blinking can have a negative effect on your eyes. If it becomes severe, you might have to undergo a vision correction procedure to restore proper eye function.
Other problems you might experience include eye strain (also known as asthenopia), itchy eyes, blurred vision, and difficulty in identifying colors. However, it is not only the glare of the screen that will cause this issue. The flickering images, high screen brightness as well as the proximity to the computer screen can also be likely culprits. If you sit too far from the screen, you will strain to comprehend the characters and images displayed.
Your eyes are vital to your writing career, and your daily life obviously. You definitely wouldn’t want any harm to come to them. Avoid straining them too much by taking breaks between writing sessions to rest. Also, keep a safe distance between you and your computer to prevent exposure to that harmful glare. Another safety precaution is to place the computer screen below the eye level. This will ensure you don’t strain your eyes as you read the letters on the screen.
Other common health problems that most writers cannot avoid are headaches and migraines. How many times have you had to stop working for a while because you developed a severe headache? This often happens because you feel the pressure of the heavy workload and deadlines that then cause tension in your neck and below the skull. Another cause for this is a poor sitting position. Headaches also occur if you are experiencing the aforementioned eye problems. For instance, if you are suffering from eye strain due to using your computer for too long, then you will most likely complain that you have a headache.
The good thing is that you can keep the headaches at bay by taking regular breaks from your computer. Even the most comfortable chair can become very uncomfortable if you have to sit in it for several hours. Hence, you should manage the amount of work you take on. That way you’ll avoid having to use the computer all the time or sit for long periods of time. The good thing is that in writing, you are mostly the one who dictates when you work and the amount of workload you can take on. So, take advantage of that and only choose what you can handle.
As a writer, you spend most of your time sitting. You don’t really have to move around unless you want to do so. For a work from home writer especially, it can be worse. All you need to do is move from your bed to the couch (to write) and, well, sometimes to the kitchen (to eat). You don’t get much of a workout by doing these activities, and you might feel too sluggish to go to the gym. Furthermore, due to the busy schedule, you can often find yourself ordering takeout food which might not be healthy for you. As a result, you might gain excess weight leading to you becoming obese.
You need to take care of your body, and keeping it fit is one way of doing that. No matter how busy you are, you must schedule a time to work out. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise, you can include some breaks where you take a walk around the block or go to the park.
Instead of takeout, you can cook your own meals and ensure you eat a healthy balanced diet every day. It won’t do you any good if you get sick or obese due to eating unhealthy food. Include some fruits and vegetables in your diet instead of living on Pizza and french fries. Keep obesity at bay by leading a healthy lifestyle.
Repetitive Stiffness Injuries
Do you ever wonder why you often feel some pain in your neck or shoulders when writing? This could be a result of repetitive stiffness injuries. Since there are no rules in writing, especially if you are working from home, many writers find themselves doing it while in awkward positions. For instance, some famous writers are known to have done their work while lying down or even while hanging upside down. However, doing this forces your spine into an awkward position that can become uncomfortable and painful. If you continue adopting these postures, you could cause harm to yourself in the long run.
As flexible as your job is, it doesn’t make any sense for you to put your body in unnecessary harm by sitting awkwardly. You will need to learn how to use good sitting positions when working. Sit with your back and feet positioned at ninety degrees angle to the ground. Ensure your hands are at a lower level than your elbows to avoid exerting pressure on your upper body.
Stress and Depression
Let’s be honest, being a writer can be very stressful at times. You have deadlines to meet, assignments to hand in, or even some health issues to deal with. All of that can throw you into a pit of depression. Furthermore, being a writer can be a lonely occupation. You spend most of your time alone engrossed in your work and not socializing. Unfortunately, when you are stressed, more complications usually arise. You might experience periods of drowsiness, weariness, poor concentration and loss of memory. It only gets worse. If unattended, you might even suffer severe health problems such as ulcers, hypertension, and heart conditions.
If you are a professional writer, then you must find ways to deal with the stress that comes with the profession. Don’t let the loneliness lead you to depression. Go out and interact with friends, and even meet random people. You will forget the hard times you are going through, and best of all, it might open up room for your creativity to grow.
Whenever you are feeling stressed, get away from the computer and take a walk. Nature can be very therapeutic and can heal your mental troubles.
Very few people get to earn a living while doing what they love and are talented in. Writers are the few lucky ones. You also get to work from home most of the time and this makes the writing profession one of the best careers that you can choose. As great as it may seem tough, it still has its own dark side. Writing brings along with it a lot of health problems if you don’t have the forethought to take measures to prevent them. We have highlighted some of these challenges and how to deal with them to help you make the most of your profession. Even though you might be busy, always find the time to practice the above preventative measures.