Official Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I have any medical training. Do not take any of the advice on this blog without consulting a physician first! 🙂
I don’t tend to think of writing as being a particularly dangerous activity. Sitting at my desk with a cup of tea, the worst concern at the back of my mind is probably carpal tunnel syndrome. Lately, though, several things have come to my attention that lead me to believe that writing is more dangerous than you’d think!
One of the hazards of writing can be the amount of time that one sits in a chair writing! I just heard on TV the other day that being sedentary at work can DOUBLE the chance of a heart attack, even if the sedentary worker works out regularly. Doctors suggest getting up at least once every hour to stretch and walk around to get the blood moving. That’s not a bad idea, anyway. Even when you ride in a car or on a plane for long periods, I’ve heard that you should flex your toes upward several times and tense your calf muscles every hour or so, so that you don’t develop a blood clot. It makes sense that just sitting in a chair would warrant the same precaution.
Another potential problem with all of this sitting around is what my mother used to term, “a secretary’s bottom.” I myself have wondered if my increasingly tight waistband is a side effect of writing, and so was quite happy to see several helpful hints for losing a few pounds on Friday morning’s Today Show. (Hmmm… maybe I can’t blame all of that sitting around on my writing…) One was to buy a memo notebook. Every morning, write a short list of things that might mess up your good diet intentions that day (such as being persuaded by a coworker to get the patty melt at lunch). Throughout the day, check off all of the things on the list that you overcome. Another was to cut your calorie intake. If you hit a plateau, drop another hundred or so calories and your progress will pick up again. (This was my least favorite suggestion.) You can also eat a whole lot of low calorie food that is highly filling, such as oranges, berries, air popped popcorn and oatmeal. Drinking green tea is helpful, too, although I can’t remember why. The MOST important thing (in my opinion) was that if you do diet, you need to treat yourself every day or you’ll feel deprived. Pick out something yummy that is around 150 calories to snack on in the afternoon, like three cookies, or a scoop of light ice cream or a small piece of cake, or whatever. (This was my favorite advice. I can personally recommend Tootsie Pops.)
The third potential hazard of being a writer is staying up too late writing, because no one is around to bother you. Happily, the same Today Show also talked about the need for sleep, and how much more productive one can be if rested. Hints for that included shutting off the TV and lowering the lights an hour before sleep time, sleeping in a cool room and writing down the things that are bothering you to get them out of your head. Also sniffing lavender and cutting out the evening caffeine intake.
Risky business, this writing! But now there is no excuse to be tired, overweight, or heart attack prone.