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How to Overcome RSI While Building Your Dream Writing Career

How to Overcome RSI While Building Your Dream Writing Career

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Anca Dumitru

Freelance Writer & Content Strategist

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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