Showing posts with label writing and health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing and health. Show all posts

Monday, February 24, 2014

Stand Up for Writers

Panic tremors shiver down my backbone. My legs jerk and my feet tap the floor uncontrollably. Some part of my brain 
wonders pathetically if this could be considered exercise. Too little, too late. 

I am doomed to disability according to a new study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

I can do exercise classes twice a week, muck out my horse twice a day, diet on the odd occasion, but if I'm sixty years 
old or older, every hour spent sitting may well double the risk of becoming disabled.

"This is the first time we've shown sedentary behavior was related to increased disability regardless of the amount of moderate exercise," said Dorothy Dunlop, professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago,  and lead author of the study. "Being sedentary is not just a synonym for inadequate physical activity."


Dangers of Sitting

So it's the sitting that does it. And all writers spend most of their working day sitting or do they?

Do the new findings mean I can sit till I'm fifty-nine and 364 days? Till I'm fifty-five? Till I'm sixty-one if I exercise a lot?

All studies should be read with caution and Professor Dunlop points out that because the study examines data at one point in time, it does not definitively determine that sedentary behavior causes disability. "It draws attention to the fact that this is a potential problem." 

Animal studies have shown that immobility is a separate risk factor for negative effects on health. Professor Dunlop's study, co-authored with Rowland Chang M.D.,is the first to corroborate that data using objective evidence from over two thousand adults over sixty.


Stand Up for your Health

According to Pilates instructor Nina Cranmer, sitting is one of the worst postures for the human body. A new mother and nowhere near sixty. she parks her laptop on a high window ledge and always stands when using it. 

My mother was a great believer in Winston Churchill's dictum. When asked to what he attributed his success, he said, "Economy of effort. Never stand up when 
you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down."

I realize now she never followed this advice herself, being always on the move. But it was a great way to keep children at bay.

Now shall I wriggle about on my Pilates ball while I write or find a book to read in bed? No contest. I'm with Churchill all the way.

All tips to help writers avoid a sedentary lifestyle welcome in the comments below.


 Anne Duguid is a freelance content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and she passes on helpful writing,editing and publishing tips from time to time at Slow and Steady Writers 



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Writing, Fear and Yoga

Though it may look like the writer isn't doing much, sitting for hours in front of a laptop, the brain is heavily engaged. The work is often emotionally demanding in the extreme, taking us places that we're afraid of but need to go, and forcing us to look deep into the black hearts of our deepest fears to uncover reality in our characters and situation.  It takes great courage to walk the difficult path of the artist, and often the effort is physically exhausting.  Fear is always tracking you, and the closer you are to reaching your writing goals, the more intense and insidious that fear can become.  Fear is a great shapeshifter, looking like block, like the need to research, like being too busy to write.  It can stop your story in its tracks just at its most critical point.

My latest work in progress (WIP) is particularly challenging, taking me to dark recesses of the past, exploring notions just beyond my intellectual capabilities, and forcing me to rethink what I know about fiction.  Every writing session is hard.  That's how I know I'm on the right path - because it it were easy, I wouldn't be pushing myself, growing, or moving my skills to a higher bar.  So how does one cope with this fear in all of its incarnations?  How do you push through it towards completion?

My biggest ally against fear is to move my body.  Exercise of all kind helps, but for me, there's nothing quite like either swimming, or doing yoga - two forms of exercise that have a mental impact on me - helping to clear my vision, work out intellectual problems with my stories, and teach me to cope with fear.  Both swimming and yoga are what I call breath practices.  They involve engaging your breath and using the breath to propel and lengthen the muscles.  Being quite small boned, I tend to get cold easily and it's often too cold to swim.  I don't much like heated indoor pools (the chlorine doesn't agree with me), so I tend to do quite a lot of yoga.  Yoga is amazing for writers.  Here are three reasons why yoga is a natural ally for the writer:
  • It helps teach us to see writing as a practice, rather than an end point.  We keep moving along the writing path, growing, changing, and pushing towards wisdom and expression.  It's not possible to fail, no matter how hard it is, when you have this perception. 
  • It teaches you to breathe. Ah, breath.  How simple and yet how powerful. Breathing is the perfect antedote to fear.  I first found out how powerful it was when I was in labour with my first child, screaming in pain.  An angel of a midwife came to me and taught me to breath slowly, deeply, with my full body and I calmed down and got to work. I've turned to breath again and again in times of stress, strive, and fear, and it never fails to remind me of the transience of each moment and the need to work, calmly, through the panic. 
  • It teaches patience.  Sometimes the right words take time to come.  You have to keep showing up, doing the exercises, stretching, breathing and working towards the vision. 
About my writing work, yoga teaches me to see my writing as work that has to be done - a responsibility and positive impetus rather than a vanity (another manifestation of fear). So next time you're struggling with the dragons of fear - call it what you will: block, self-doubt, other priorities, "no-time", try taking a 30 minute yoga break and see if that doesn't help. Breath through it. Even when it hurts. Then back to work. The world is waiting for you to change it.



Growing Your Writing Practice

By Deborah Lyn Stanley We’ve been writing and developed certain habits. Maybe this is a good time to improve our practice, or even call it o...