My writer friend, Anne Wayman, posted about some ideal work space for people who work from home.
Anne mentioned the need for good ergonomics. That reminded me of this guest post I did for Danielle McGaw at The Social Freelance Writer. It has some tips I received from an expert on ergonomics. After reading another post on the importance of taking care of your health for work-at-home business owners, I thought I would share this guest post with its tips.Originally posted at The Social Freelance Writer
Health and the Freelance Writer – the Novel
Practice what you preach. That was my first thought when Danielle asked me to write about freelance writers taking care of their health.
Like many of us out there, I know a lot about good health. I spent over 30 years in the health care industry. Ironically, it has been since I left to become a freelance writer that I returned my focus to good health. Don’t get me wrong. I am getting better, but I am not as diligent as I need to be. So, instead of preaching, I will take the journey with you in exploring what freelance writers can do to take care of their health.
Most freelance writers love the freedom that freelancing offers. Whether you are a Work At Home Mom (WAHM) or working solo, there are things you can do to work smarter and healthier.
One of the gifts I brought from Corporate America was the advice of an ergonomic specialist. I worked at a brokerage firm at the time that had a specialist in its workers compensation area. His simple guidance helped me stop wrist pain and sore, dry eyes. How’s that for a combination?
Here are a few tips for a healthy writing style.
The Mouse – Old school types (like me) are overly dependent on the mouse. If you must use it, make sure you use your whole arm in moving it. A better solution is using keyboard shortcuts.
Moving the mouse, just by hand – in a side-to-side motion – puts a strain on your wrist. Do you use the mouse pad with the cushioned rest? Bad idea – it encourages the side-to-side motion.
Monitor – Keep monitors at eye level. If you have your computer above your head, your eyes dry out from tilting up, and it strains neck and shoulder muscles. You were wondering where I got the dry eyes from, weren’t you?
Keep the monitor at a distance where you can read it, but not too close. There are all kinds of recommendations, like 20-25 or 30 inches. I am all about unique. It’s a middle child of seven affliction. Everyone is different, so you have to find what works best for you.
Posture – This is the tough one. I probably abuse this one more than any other. What the specialist told me was “think right angles.” Math – ugh.
Your feet should be flat on the floor. Your legs are at a right angle from your hip. Do not lean forward – my downfall. Lean back, with lumbar support just below your waist.
Keyboard – Position keyboards slightly below your elbow so your wrists are straight when resting. If the keyboard is too high, like those of you who put it on the desk, it puts a strain on your wrists, shoulders, and other places you never knew about. Trust me, I’m a baby boomer.
Like I said earlier, you have to find what works best for you. Your body will thank you for it.
Shake That Booty
Writers hate to interrupt when they are in the zone. While great for productivity, it may not be so great for your health.
Get up and move around. Even while your booty is in the chair, change positions, rotate your ankles, your head. Let your arms drop before they drop you. Move, baby, move. Set a timer if you need an audio reminder or have a child. Okay, that may be a tad extreme; however, you get the idea.
Know Your Numbers
- Blood Pressure: 115/75
- LDL Cholesterol: 100 or less
- HDL Cholesterol: 50 or higher
- Resting Heart Rate: 83 or lower
I know how difficult it is for a freelance writer to find affordable health insurance. That is a blog post for another day.
Even if you do not have health insurance, it is vital that you have your preventive screenings. As a seven-time walker in the Susan G. Komen, 3-Day, 60-mile Walk for Breast Cancer, I encourage mammograms.
It is far less costly (and deadly) to catch the early stages of health problems. Many places offer free blood pressure and other screenings. Check your local drug stores and clinics for information.
Additional free online resources include:
Help Off the Health Pedestal
I hope you do not feel an urge to push me off the health pedestal. At least that would get me out of this chair. This all brings me back to where I started. Practice what you preach. I’ll promise to do a better job of balancing freelancing with good health if you will. After all, isn’t that what we are all looking for? A better life.
Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not a health care professional and cannot provide medical advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute medical advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review medical issues with your physician.
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