In my many years as a stay-at-home-mother and freelancer writer, I’ve always maintained a membership at our local YMCA. It’s been doubly, if not triply, rewarding, allowing my children time in a monitored playroom to socialize and run off energy while I hang out nearby, receiving the emotional and physical benefits of a regular workout.
Soon into my first year of lap-swimming, I realized the benefits of exercise to my work as a writer. Moving through the cool, blue water, I began mentally “diving” through my list of writing projects that had yet to be done. The repetitive movement helped generate ideas for potential articles and submissions. And I’d remember follow-up work that had been missed in the busyness of my life as a mother. My water time quickly became invaluable to my writing life.
In this last year, I’ve taken my workout to “land,” using the fitness room to kill two birds with one stone. My workout begins on the bicycle, where I catch up on my newspaper reading while pedaling, then progresses to the treadmill, where I start in on my read-and-walk-fast routine. Sometimes, this is the only chance I have during the week to read. I’ll admit, the workout might not be as vigorous as it could be, but nothing is wasted. Even if I’m not lifting weights or running hard, I am raising my heart rate and moving – something we writers especially, inclined as we are to a sedentary lifestyle, greatly need.
As my youngest child prepares to go to kindergarten and I prepare to turn in a more focused direction with my writing, I’ve been tossing around the idea of letting go of my membership. After all, I’ll no longer have kids with me who need a release and I’m going to need all the extra time I can summon to accomplish my work goals. Something’s gotta give, right?
That’s where my mind was heading until this weekend, when I attended the spring conference of the North Dakota Professional Communicators. Along with panels on crisis communications and social media, we had a bonus presentation on wellness in the workplace. And even though many of those being addressed work in office situations, I quickly applied what was being shared to my life as a freelance writer.
One surprising-to-me fact that stands out: Those who have a membership to a health club, even if they never use it, are on average healthier than those who don’t.
Interesting, no? And then the journalist in me immediately flew into “Why?” mode. Why would this be? I asked if it’s because those who commit to a health-club membership have a healthier mindset from the start and likely have been making other health-focused choices in their lives. The presenter agreed those factors likely account for what otherwise would appear to be an illogical outcome.
And so I’m back thinking I’ll retain my membership. Why would I want to risk losing the benefits that have been so helpful in sustaining my writing over the past years, not to mention my physical and emotional health? Is it possible that continuing to plan a workout into my schedule, even if it’s just two or three mornings a week, could help me be even more productive as a writer? I’d say that’s possible. And especially when one’s office and home are the same, leaving the office every once in a while, even routinely – to gain perspective if nothing else – seems vital.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t convinced a talk on wellness at a communications conference would help my career, but now I’m thinking it might have been the most beneficial talk of all. At the very least, I believe it nudged me in a direction that will serve me well in the coming year.
What is your wellness plan as a writer?