In a lot of ways, it’s the perfect gig. You get to make your own hours, to set your own pay, to pick your projects, and to be your own boss. And there’s something very cool about getting paid to create, knowing that other people are going to read your ideas and actually care!
But with every potion, there’s some poison. Every sweet comes with a little bit of bitterness. Writing and blogging are fantastic work if you can get it. But when you do, there are some real physical and mental health effects you need to be aware of.
There’s tremendous freedom in being a writer, but there’s also an equal amount of responsibility, especially if you’ve got a family to feed. The pressure to land that next project and to court the newest prospect can make you feel like you need to always be working. After all, when your home is also your office, you’re literally bringing your work home with you. When you combine that reality with the fact that your financial survival depends on you alone, that’s the perfect recipe for work addiction.
When you’re work addicted, not only are you at greater risk of depression, anxiety, and burnout, but you’re also more likely to experience physical health effects. This can include everything from high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease to alcohol and drug addiction.
To prevent this “always-on” mentality of allowing work to consume your life and your relationships, you have to establish a work routine and stick to it. That means creating a work schedule that incorporates frequent, regular breaks and predictable “off hours.” The time you spend resting, reconnecting with loved ones, and just recentering yourself might feel like hours and days of lost income, but what you’re actually doing is priming the pump. You’re restoring yourself in mind, body, and spirit so that you will be more productive and produce better content during your working hours.
Create a daily work schedule to prevent the temptation of “always being on.”
Get a Move On
Unless you’re a travel writer or a journalist, chances are, your writing life keeps you pretty sedentary. That’s a dangerous proposition, especially when you’re also contending with the constant stress of meeting deadlines or hustling new gigs.
Incorporating exercise into your normal, daily routine will not only improve your cardiovascular health but it will also boost your mood and your stamina. Doing some gentle yoga or taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood before you start writing will release the neurotransmitters you need to get your creative juices flowing.
Getting outdoors for a nice hike or a refreshing swim is also a perfect way to decompress, reconnect with nature, and surround yourself with the beauty of the natural world. You’ll feel stronger in mind and spirit as well as in the body. That’s going to make you feel better about your work and make you more productive and efficient when you are working.
Spending time in nature will help you be more active, healthier, and more creative.
The Eyes Have It
Earning your keep as a professional writer brings risks beyond those associated with stress or sedentarism. It can also wreak havoc on your vision. If you’ve been writing for a while, chances are, you already know too well what a strain staring at a computer screen all day can be like.
There are approximately 10 million people in the US with some sort of vision problem, ranging from nearsightedness to complete vision loss. By the age of 40, most people will already have developed clinical signs of presbyopia, a condition in which the lens of the eye loses its flexibility, making it difficult for the eye to focus on small, near objects.
Unlike most other eye conditions, presbyopia is pretty much unavoidable. If you live long enough, it will happen to you. Most people will eventually need reading glasses, but if you’re working on a computer or tablet for long periods of time, it’s a good idea to invest in reading glasses that also block blue light. This can help you protect your vision while also preventing the fatigue and eye strain that comes with a long day of writing.
As a writer, you must take particular care of your eyes.
The writing life is a life most people can only dream of. You get to earn a living doing what you love. Not many people can say that. But the writing life has its price. The stress of being your own boss can make you feel guilty for any time you may take away from your work, yet this downtime is exactly what makes your productive writing hours possible. At the same time, working from home and in front of a computer screen makes you rife for so-called “sitting diseases,” like high blood pressure and heart disease, and staring at an electronic device all the time isn’t exactly easy on the eyes. Making your mental and physical health a priority is essential if you want to make your writing and blogging career a long and healthy one.