Writers Need to Practice Self-Care—Here's Why
I was casually scrolling through Facebook, and I came across a heartbreaking story in The New York Times. The devastating lede seemed shocking, yet somewhat familiar:
Miwa Sado, a young journalist for Japan’s state-run broadcaster, spent the summer of 2013 frantically covering two local elections in Tokyo, wrote Makiko Inoue and Megan Specia.
Over the course of a month, she clocked 159 hours of overtime. She rarely took weekends off. She worked until midnight nearly every night. On her birthday, June 26, she emailed her parents, who thought she sounded weak.
Not quite a month later, just days after the second election, she died of congestive heart failure. She was 31.
How could this happen? I wondered. But then I thought about all the nights I’ve spent frantically writing a draft to edit and send to an editor.
I don’t track my hours as much as I used to, but reading this article made me curious about how much time I put into each story. Research, travel, photography, writing, editing…
Yes, this story happened in Japan. And yes, the scenario is drastic. But it illustrates the dangers of a culture that encourages—and even coerces you into—overworking yourself.
I had a similar situation a couple years ago. The stress from a former job caused me to have chest pains, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. I dreaded going into work, because I wasn’t sure what I was going to endure when I went into to work.
One day, I began having shortness of breath while sitting at my desk. Though I was quietly eating my lunch in my office, it felt like I had just come back from a run. That was a wake-up call. I knew I needed another job, so I found a part-time gig and left. Two months later, I had my first byline in The New York Times.
I say that to say that you can craft the life that you want for yourself. You shouldn’t subject yourself to a job that could possibly kill you. You don’t owe that to your employer. You don’t need to do that to your family, your friends, or yourself.
Take a moment for yourself every day. Read a chapter of that book you’ve been meaning to read. Take a bubble bath. (I’m more of a shower girl than a bath girl, but do you, boo.) Go for a walk. Watch a movie that makes you laugh. Call that friend or significant other who makes you happy.
Life is too short to be making money for someone else at the expense of your own well being. Selfish is not a bad word. It’s okay to step away from the computer, and do something that makes you happy. Remember that.
What are some of your favorite ways to practice self-care? Let me know in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org? (Yes, I’ll get your email!)