Author Self-Care: Sanity Boosters

Being stuck in traffic is not the most productive way to spend one’s time. Being stuck makes me contemplate my sanity, as I notice it dwindling away.

If I’m going to lose my marbles, there should be a more compelling reason, don’t you think? The last time I was immobilized on the freeway, I refocused my perspective on how to improve life. Especially my writing life. Self-care jumped to mind.

When I’m writing, my state of mind can get intense, especially when I’m feeling a different sort of stuck. Stuck because I’m unsure about what I’ve written, I need to clean up a scene, I’d rather be doing something else or… you fill in the blank. Instead of stewing or feeling pressure, it’s far better to:

1. Step away and relax: When I shift direction, I come back feeling ready to roll. The shift can be as simple as dish-washing (Agatha Christie credited dish-washing as, “The best time for planning a book…” or reading or walking or spending time with loved ones (human and canine/feline/even poultry, in my case). It’s because the focus slides away from writing and onto a task that doesn’t require as much mental finesse. The key is finding something to massage and unwind the mind.

2. Say NO to social media: You don’t have to shun it forever, but back off for a bit, if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Make sure time spent posting or tweeting is no more than 10-20 percent of the day. And make sure you make it fun. Otherwise, why bother?

3. Exercise: Back to the bit about walking. Scarcely a day went by that Charles Dickens didn’t “flee his desk and take to the streets of London and its suburbs.” . Dickens was onto something. Taking in the sights, sounds, and scents of a walk can be refreshing and stimulating on the psyche as well as the body.

4. Eat well: Your mind and your body are the only ones you’ve got. Doesn’t it make sense to take the very best care of them? That includes eating well. I have an urge to snack when writing because…what writer doesn’t love a distraction? Sometimes, I give in and other times I flex my muscles of self-control. When I do cave, I make snacks light and healthy. I can reward myself with more later.

When you find yourself tensing up, no matter what the activity, stop and find a way to switch gears to ensure a positive frame of mind. After all, how can we progress in writing and in life unless we keep ourselves in tip-top shape?

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