Caring for the Whole Author
Updated: Jul 10, 2019
By Nishoni Harvey
In What Does Self Care Have to Do with Your Writing?, we talked about taking care of ourselves so that we can protect our craft. Today, I want to talk about you, as a person. You’re not just an author. That’s only one of your hats. You’re so much more!
You’re a son, a daughter, a mom, a dad, a husband, a wife, a grandparent, a pet parent… You’re a teacher, an entrepreneur, a waitress, a janitor, or a cashier. Maybe you’re a cook at McDonald's or a concierge at Disney. Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home parent, one of whom works as hard, if not harder, than everyone else, by the way. You’re not just a writer. No, you’re so many people.
All Three of You
Not only that, but there are three parts of you. Does that even make sense? Let me explain. We have a body, soul, and spirit. We must cater to all three if we’re going to care for our whole self—the whole author.
Do you make sure to take care of your basic physical needs? Good!
What about your not-so-basic ones? How thoroughly have you considered your whole health lately?
Your physical health is so important, and we all know this. We know what to do. Many of us know how to do it. Why don’t we? How do we take care of the whole author? We must take care of our body!
Are you getting the 6-8 hours of sleep your body needs every night? It’s easy to stay awake late into the night writing when you feel pressed to meet that next deadline.
Try setting a timer on your phone to go off at the same time every evening. Mine used to go off at 11:00. I say “used to” because I work my schedule a bit differently now. Find a time and routine that works for you, and stick to it.
Write Your List
Then, there’s this crazy anxiety that I’m sure you’re all too familiar with. It comes on you just as you start to get tired, keeping you laying there awake at night long staring at the ceiling. If you take a few minutes before bed to jot down what you have to do the next day, it’ll take a load off your mind and help you sleep better.
Many times, the whole thing keeping us awake is our brain mulling over our to-do list as we worry about what we may forget.
Rebuilding and Replenishing
Neglecting your sleep, as we saw in the last blog post, will make you sick, both physically and mentally.
During these periods of deep rest that you need, is the only time your body has to rebuild its immune system and rebuild and replenish your norepinephrine, and serotonin levels. There are people in hospitals today that are there merely because they neglected sleep.
Your soul is the seat of your desires and affections, your emotions, and your feelings. It’s what we refer to as “your heart.”
Some people open their heart to everyone and anyone, just being loving, outgoing, and accepting. There are those that are careful with their heart. They offer it, but not quite as freely. And there are those that guard their heart carefully because they’ve been hurt so many times.
None of these approaches are “wrong,” per se. They just differ. You must do what you consider best for you.
However, some of us do set unhealthy boundaries. It is unhealthy to go unguarded at all, and it’s unhealthy to go guarded too much. The pendulum swings both ways.
It’s unhealthy to guard ourselves against all human relationships at all. We need relationships to thrive emotionally and mentally in life. We must let people in, but we must also carefully guard our heart.
The biggest reason for guarding our heart in a relationship is to keep ourselves, the whole author, emotionally healthy. But what do I mean by guarding our heart?
Our heart’s desire, the innate desire of our soul, is to please and, therefore, be loved and accepted by others. We must guard this in our relationships. This is what’s so easily trampled on. This is what’s so easily manipulated. This is what’s so easily turned against us.
This unguarded desire is why we have teens giving into peer pressure. It’s why we have women staying in abusive situations—because they believe their husband will start loving them if they “just do better—if they just start pleasing him.”
This manipulation of an unguarded heart also carries over into so many other places, whether it be as simple as lying for someone or as bad as trying weed or even committing murder.
How is it people use it against us? I mean it’s our heart, right? Don’t we have the ability to control it? We do. That’s what I’m talking about here—guarding our heart. What people use against us is that desire to please, that desire to be accepted and loved.
Are you afraid to be rejected by others? Most people are. Remember, our heart’s desire is for acceptance and love. Because we want these things, and because we innately know, even as a toddler, that we must please others to get them, a fully unguarded heart will do anything to avoid this rejection.
So, how do I fix my heart if I guard it too much or too little?
You don’t want to shun all human companionship, but you don’t want to accept all human error into your heart as your own either. A good “fix-it” plan is to:
✏️ Set firm, healthy boundaries within your heart. If you have your boundaries set and stick to them, guarding your heart from others will be easier. When you set these, getting out there among others won’t be as much of a problem. You’ll know how far you’re willing to go.
If you don’t know your boundaries on an issue, you may be forced to guess on the spur of the moment. In the excitement of the second, you may make a decision you wouldn’t usually make and regret it later.
✏️ Get out there and be friendly, but be careful who you become friends with. There’s a difference! You can be friendly and not be buddy-buddy.
If you see warning signs in their life that could lead to a dangerous situation for you (if there’s something in their life that you’re not comfortable doing yourself), keep your heart guarded. As they say, “You become who your friends are.”
✏️ In your friendships, watch for the danger signs of an unhealthy soul. An unguarded heart can slip so quickly down the slippery slope, looking for acceptance. It’s important to watch for the signs that your friends are becoming bad influences before they can affect you.
If they begin gravitating toward things that make you feel uncomfortable, talk to them about it. Maybe they don’t even realize they’re doing it. Perhaps they have another friend that’s affecting their heart. Maybe they need your help.
If they won’t accept your help, continue being friendly, but try not to get any closer. A closer relationship may mean a stronger desire to please them and fit in with them. It may, therefore, involve a drop in the boundaries you set in your heart long before.
The spirit of man is his “mental and moral qualities.”
We must be careful of our mental well-being. We must safeguard ourselves against psychological disaster, which can come with a prolonged state of overwork, high stress, and unrealistic expectations. In order to care for the whole author—you, you must take care of your spirit. How do you do that?
You don’t just need rest at night. You must resist pushing yourself like a workhorse all day long too. You must give yourself some downtime. Just Kick Back, and Chill-Lax showed us some fundamental reasons to relax—all of them having to do with our writing.
Yes, I know, I know… You’re strong as an ox and bright as Einstein. I’ve got that. Regardless, you need a few minutes of relaxation here and there throughout the day. The lack of sufficient “time-out” will bring on a brain fog, which will hinder your ability to be as productive as you could be.
I know what you’re thinking—“I could get more done if I just worked through it.” Honestly, though, you’ll get so much more done so much more quickly on a refreshed mind than you ever could have by pushing through. Just a fifteen-minute break here and there will make all the difference in the world.
Some ways to relax and renew that mental powerhouse of yours might be to:
🕑 Take a fifteen-minute walk. Exercise reduces stress.
🕑 Do some Sudoku. Some people find this works well for them.
🕑 Play tug-of-war with your dog or “laser tag” with your cat. Playing with your pet will get out some of your pent-up nervous energy, get you exercise, and help you show affection all at the same time. Showing affection, in and of itself, is know to be a stress-reducer.
🕑 Sit down with a cup of hot tea and a good book.
🕑 Watch a comedy on YouTube. “Laughter is good for the soul” and a balm for the spirit, relieving stress and refreshing your whole self.
🕑 Sit down in your recliner, close your eyes, and listen to some slow, quiet music. Slow and quiet music quiets the brain and relaxes you. Fast, upbeat music makes your body want to move and your brain want to “work.”
🕑 Dance to some upbeat music.
Ways to Revive
Maybe you’re thinking, I’m already on my way to a mental breakdown! What will I ever do? Perhaps you should take a day to yourself. Relax and renew. Here are some ways to revive, bring life back to your emotions. Ladies first:
🌸 Take a bath. What a better way to relax and unwind than to take a nice, long soak in a hot bubble bath? Light a scented candle, throw in your favorite book, send the kids to Grandma’s, and you’ve got a recipe for awesomeness.
🌸 Get a massage. We all know how awesome of a stress reliever this is!
🌸 Organize. Creating order gives you a feeling of control over an area of your life. No matter how much chaos there is.
🌸 Have a girl’s day out. Take some girlfriends. Laugh. Get your nails done. Have your hair trimmed. Get your make-up done. A whole new you will make you feel renewed and less stressed—at least for the day, and a day away from the norm will work wonders.
🌸 Bake. If you enjoy being in the kitchen and you seem to always be “on the go,” you probably don’t get to do this very often.
On top of that, you and your family probably won’t be able to eat everything you bake today if you go hog-wild. Share your creations with your friends, your neighbors, shut-ins in the community, or the little girl down the street that lost her puppy last week. Sharing your goods will make you feel good and, also, help relieve stress.
🎣 Get out in the tool shop. Do whatever it is that makes you happy. Go fishing, work on your car, go to a nearby stable and take a horseback ride. Do something that you don’t usually do. Watching TV might sound tempting, but you could do that any day. Besides, you do do that. Does it help? Maybe temporarily. Maybe not at all. Find something you enjoy and do it!
🎣 Take your significant other on a date. If you’re as busy as two working people tend to be, or even as one working author tends to be, you don’t get to spend a whole lot of quality time together. Take her out. You’ll thank me. Not only is it relaxing to get to spend time with your other half, but getting to talk to someone else about how you feel also relieves stress. She wants to hear all about you and your work. Talk it out!
🎣 Take your mom out for dinner. You probably don’t get to spend much quality time with your parents these days. They, especially your mom, need that. You need that. You may feel guilty about the lack of time you have to spend with her. Taking your mom to her favorite restaurant will, not only make her day brighter, but it will give you time to spend with one of your favorite people.
🎣 Invite the “boys” over to veg. Playing cards or video games or watching football with “the guys” can be a big stress reliever. Not only will it get your mind off things for a bit and give you time to relax, but you’ll get a chance to enjoy yourself. And, remember, laughter relieves stress.
Caring for yourself, the whole author, is vital! Head to toe care—the body, soul, and spirit, is the only way to make sure your not-so-basic needs are taken care of too. Get your rest, guard your heart, and relax and renew your mind!
Can you think of any more ways to make these happen? Please share!
Coming second only to God, mothering her four children and “wifing” are Nishoni’s true loves.
Writing pulls up close behind. Having written since she was just a little tyke, she has a file full of stories that she wrote as a first and second grader and beyond, which she hopes to turn into children's books.
As of today, she has authored one novella, one novel, and seven non-fiction books, written chapters in two other books, and published several articles, and blogs.