RSI. Repetitive Strain Injuries.

The worst nightmare of anyone who uses a computer for longer than four hours every day without taking proper breaks.

Writers are no different. If it’s not their dry eyes or stiff neck, then it’s illnesses with sexy names: tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve entrapment syndromes, and so on. These are only a few of the many chronic health issues writers face while making a living and delivering on their promises to clients.

The pain and discomfort that come along are anything but sexy. RSI can be extremely debilitating. It can reach the point where voice-to-text software is the only way to help them do their job. Physical therapy is needed to treat the effects and avoid a roaring relapse.

Unless you pay attention to your work habits, RSI won’t spare you. Your body will respond, even though not immediately, and you’ve got to listen to it.

Use an Ergonomic Mouse

We all know we have to take breaks when we use the computer and yet we get all caught up in our work, thinking, planning, talking on the phone while we keep holding on to the mouse. We forget we have to simply let go of it and rest the arm and hand. Keeping the hand passively on the mouse puts nearly the same amount of strain on your muscles as in the active state, slowly damaging them.

An ergonomic mouse with a vibrating sensor will detect when you’re passively holding the mouse for longer than 10 seconds. It then vibrates gently, prompting you to take your hand off and rest your arm and shoulder. When you need it again, you simply pick it up and continue to use it. You’ll take a lot of micro breaks and after a while, it just becomes a habit.

Sit in a Correct Posture

Sitting in a bad posture is also a major contributor to RSI. Make sure you sit up straight even if you’re tempted to slouch or lean forward. An ergonomic desk accompanied by an equally ergonomic chair will help you sit and work comfortably. Pay attention also to your work environment. A fresh air flow that’s neither too cold nor too warm, as well as proper lighting that doesn’t shine on your computer screen, are highly recommended.

Take Breaks

Proper breaks can be used in so many constructive ways. Do take advantage of them!

Set a timer to keep you focused and to force you to take breaks.

Run in place, do push-ups or sit-ups. Move around and have a glass of water.

If you prefer to still sit at your desk, do some simple mobility exercises for your hands and wrists.

If using EyeDefender, by default you can rest your eyes for two minutes after working non-stop for 45 minutes. You also have the option to customize the interval between breaks as well as the break duration.

You can also meditate sitting or lying down. Better yet, try walking meditation.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you regularly keep yourself in motion or simply relax.

Don’t Ignore the Power of Sun

Whenever you get the chance, expose your body to the sun, at least for short periods of time. To be on the safe side, use sunscreen with high SPF. If you live in a humid and cold climate where you’re mostly used to rain, which only aggravates your symptoms, you know what I mean by craving sunshine. The sun’s warmth on your skin will feel like balm for the soul. Apart from that, sun bathing also helps you build your immune system and treat vitamin D deficiency.

Give your muscles time to rest and heal. Listen to what your body tells you.

Avoid putting pressure on yourself and you’ll be the healthiest, most prolific and inspired writer that you want to be.

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Featured photo credit: 24oranges.nlvia Flickr

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