by Madison A. Baker: Writers have tough jobs…
The constant self-imposed pressure to create combined with an endless stream of rejection letters can take the wind out of any writer’s proverbial sails. Unfortunately, these are inherent aspects of the job, and any writer worth their salt pushes through these obstacles. However, this fitful march forward does have an affect on a writer’s mental health. Though you can’t wave your hand and resolve these problems, you do have a modicum of control over where you do your actual writing.
For many, the ideal setting for writing is a comfortable chair, a solid writing desk, and a good window. Others prefer a more outgoing approach to their writing, populating every nook and cranny of their local coffee shop while they hone their craft. However, writing alone in a room can feel claustrophobic, lonely, and sterile — a situation that can easily lead to stress-induced depression and even obesity. Writing in public can feel like it attracts judgement from those around you, or fill you with the existential dread of impostor syndrome.
Writers who suffer from anxiety or depression due to these writing conditions are in luck, as there is an option that is often overlooked available to them. The great outdoors offer up a perfect place to pen your new novel or short story. Not only will writing outside help to bolster your creativity, but engaging in outdoor writing can provide a host of health benefits as well.
Physical Health Translates to Mental Health
Whether you write professionally or for pleasure, you’ll more than likely spend a significant portion of your writing time sitting. Because of this, it can be hard to keep your physical health up to snuff. While “a little extra to love” doesn’t pose immediate health risks, if you let it go too far you may become obese, which can cause a plethora of health issues.
According to the Bradley University Nursing Program, obesity is an epidemic. Over a third of adults in the United States are classified as obese, and an estimated 13 million children share that same classification. Individuals suffering from obesity are at a higher risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. However, the benefits of staying fit go far beyond the physical results you will see and the improved long-term health you will experience as a result of weight loss.
Regular exercise is directly linked to improved mental health as well as physical health. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise helps to reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression by releasing mood-boosting endorphins and improving your self-confidence. Doctors at the National Center for Biotechnology Information have found that a good workout can also increase your mental alertness, stamina, energy, endurance, and even your interest in sexual activity. Yes, only some of those benefits relate directly to writing (depending on who you ask), but the science behind improving your mental health through your physical health is solid and well documented.
Stress Can Stop You in Your Tracks
Waiting to hear back on the writing that you have spent countless hours editing and improving upon is a stressful situation to be in. Even more stressful is knowing that the chances of rejection far outweigh the chances that your work will be accepted. While most writers have their own way of coping with this stress, those that don’t are putting themselves at serious risk.
Not all stress has a negative impact, however. Stress can be a fantastic motivator in certain situations such as self-preservation or when you need an extra push to complete a specific task — but, overall, too much stress can lead to some nasty side effects. According to Ohio University, people who experience chronic stress have reduced functionality of their immune system and often suffer from headaches, chest pain, upset stomachs, lack of motivation, trouble sleeping, irritability, and even a decreased sex drive. Add all of these symptoms up, and it is no wonder why stress can negatively impact your writing.
While it is well documented that taking regular vacations can vastly improve your mental and physical health, an expensive trip isn’t the only option for stress-relief. Everyone has their own ways of coping with stress when it comes their way, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Taking time out to go on a scenic walk through the woods, camp on a riverbank to listen to the soothing water flowing past, or hiking up a mountain to a beautiful vista can all be fantastic stress-relievers.
Boost Your Creativity
Creativity is obviously a massive part of any writer’s life. We draw from our creative wells to find inspiration and rely on creativity to keep our writing fresh and interesting, both to ourselves as writers and to our audience. Unfortunately, even though these wells run deep, they are not infinite and writers can often find themselves conspicuously short of creative energy. This of course can lead to procrastination and writer’s block, or in the worst cases absolute writing burnout.
One interesting thing about creativity, however, is that it can be replenished as easily as it is expended. Inspiration can come at any time, in any form, whether it comes from studying a painting or overhearing a stranger’s conversation, there is always a chance that life around you will kickstart your creativity. Opting to write out in nature is one way that you can take control of your own creativity, in a sense manufacturing it yourself. Jennifer Smith of the American Graphics Institute is quoted as saying about writing in nature: “Getting outside and taking a walk can help to clear my head, letting me return to my desk with a renewed focus and improved creativity.”
With that in mind, a walk or a hike is a great no-cost option for you to kick your creativity into high-gear. If hiking isn’t something that appeals to you, simply doing tai chi or yoga in an outdoor setting can cut your stress and give you the creative boost you need. Whether you prefer the methodical movements of yoga in a park where you can soak up your surroundings at your leisure, or you enjoy going on a vigorous hike that gets your blood pumping, getting out into nature is the way to do it.
Madison Ann Baker is a writer, Netflix-binger, and pop culture enthusiast who lives in Idaho. Literature and linguistics are her two passions, both of which she studied in college. She enjoys writing about animals and health and wellness, but dabbles in a little bit of everything. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Labrador, Dash, and re-reading Harry Potter. Twitter:https://