What Does Self-Care Have to Do with Writing?
Updated: Jul 10, 2019
By Nishoni Harvey
When I’m writing, I find myself completely absorbed in what I’m doing and unable to stop. I find that I neglect to take time apart to “take care of myself.” Part of that is that I’m so busy on my “writing to-do list” that I don’t feel like I have time too.
I’m not talking about brushing your teeth, combing your hair, and changing your clothes. Those are the basics. But what about the rest? What about the rest of self-care?
What are you talking about, Nishoni?
What Is Self-Care?
Kristine Meier Skiff, with Glimpsesofskiff said it well when she said, "True self-care is about more than just going out for coffee or getting a manicure. True self-care is the 10% of your time that you invest in yourself so that you can be the best you that you can be the other 90% of the time.”
She goes on the say, “Self-care looks very different depending on the person and even the day. There are times self-care looks like me sitting on my front porch watching a storm roll in. Other times it's me getting up early so that I have a few minutes to enjoy my coffee and get my thoughts together for the day.”
Avenues of Self-Care
There are several things you can do for self-care. We’ll only hit a few.
** You should add at least fifteen minutes of “me-time” to your daily schedule. --It's one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
I fail miserably in this area. I’ve found that if I don’t schedule my “me-time” into my day, I don’t get it. Even then, I fail. I try to schedule it, but I get so busy that the end of my day rolls around before I know it, leaving my schedule in the dust.
“Besides,” I argue, “I know I need to take time for myself, but I am taking time for myself when I’m ‘working.’” I love to write. Therefore, it’s not really “work,” right?
My husband counters my argument, “Yes, you may love it, but you need to do something different, something that you don’t do all the time. You need to do something different from the norm.”
My friend, Nat Davis with “Nat Davis is Creating Painting and Writing,” told me something we all need to take to heart. She shared that if we don’t set aside time to do the things we love—to take care of our most basic need for relaxation, that we’ll end up sick, both physically and mentally, and burnt out. She’s right.
Even if your "me-time" just includes kicking back to chill-lax for a little bit, that's fine too. Even that will improve your clarity of mind and give you a fresh perspective, making your writing more lively and emotionally charged.
** Find a place in your busy schedule to fit in some exercise.—Rhett Power, who was named the 2017 best book awards winner and 2018 best business coach in the USA, was quoted on the Insperity website to have said, "A little exercise will go a long way to reducing stress. Even just a brisk walk in the morning will energize and motivate you for the day ahead."
Do lunges on the way to the refrigerator for snacks or to the sink for water. Pick your knees up super high in a high-stepping march during your trips to the bathroom. Do ten jumping jacks every time you stand up and five squats every time you go to sit down. If you have stairs, run up them and back down them again when you need to go up or downstairs. When it’s time to pick up the house, do it at top-speed to work in some cardio. There are many other things you can do too.
These are just a few ideas that won’t take any extra time—or much extra time if they do.
** I know you’re busy but take time to prepare yourself snacks of real food instead of munching on junk food all day long.—Junk food makes you sluggish and unable to work to your fullest potential. It damages your ability to focus and makes your productivity decline.
The time spent making sure you have carrots and dip, pita bread and humus, or some other healthy food separated and ready for snacks will more than save time when you consider the time you’ll lose over a sluggish brain.
Talking It Out
** Always give yourself the permission and time to get your emotions out.—When you’re under the gun, so to say, it’s easy to get stressed.
There are several ways you can get those feelings out instead of doing the unhealthy thing and bottling them up. Talking to your mom or best friend about them or writing them out in a journal are two avenues.
When Should You Get Your Self-Care In?
Caring for yourself throughout the day is essential. Little spurts of exercise or “me-time” here and there throughout the day is beneficial to you and your writing. Escaping from the daily grind and doing something that you enjoy will help you relax, calm your body and soul, and refresh your mind for a brand new go at it.
Your Self-Care Affects Your Writing!
Self-care encompasses caring for your whole person, as we saw. "Me-time" and talking it out both help your emotional or psychological health. Exercise and eating healthy cover physical health.
When these are off kilter, it will throw your writing off kilter too. If you don't feel well physically, you can't focus on what you're doing.
Granted there are times you can't help it. A virus can hit you hard. But physically feeling ill due to lack of self-care is self-inflicted sabotage on your writing career.
The same is true with your psychological side. If your emotions are out of whack, everything is weird. You see through a brain that blows everything out of proportion. Soon, that which you had loved becomes a burden. That's a sad place to be--especially if you bring it upon yourself.
I beg you to implement a self-care routine.
Let's help each other! Do you have some ideas on how to take care of yourself when you seemingly don’t have the time to stop writing? Can you share them below?
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.