Self-care: feed your brain

Look.  You’ve got to.

Eat healthy foods

Most of us have heard the old axiom, “Garbage in, garbage out,” and there’s a reason for that.  If you’re relying on junk to get through the day and fuel your writing sessions—sugar, caffeine, alcohol—chances are you’re not writing as clearly as you could be.

Even if you think your work is great, there’s a high likelihood that you’re slowly torturing your body behind the scenes.  Take this from the person who lived on Pepsi and Doritos for a year in college because I thought I was too busy to sit down for a meal.  I got all “A”s, but I also blacked out in a hallway on the tail end of a viral infection that just would not go away.

The point here is, it’s worth it to make an investment in your health and clarity, even if it’s frustrating to leave your desk behind for the time it takes to cook and consume a meal.  And it’s also worth it to do a quick nutrition check of the things you’re eating and make sure that you’re taking in the proteins and vitamins you need to function at your sharpest.

Make a meal plan

If you’re like me, and you have a weird relationship with food, I highly recommend that you make a meal plan.  The benefits:

You can schedule your allotted meals throughout the day so that they coincide with times you need to take a break from writing anyway, so you don’t feel like you’re wasting time.

You can research your nutritional needs once, create building blocks for the types of meals you need, make a chart, and then never have to think about it again.  I have a list of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats, and I just make sure I’ve got one thing from each list in each of my meals.  I also keep fruit and nuts on hand for blood sugar dips.

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My meal plan, in case it helps to have an example.

You can prep and freeze meals ahead for the days you know you’re going to have time to write, and you don’t want to take the time to cook fresh.

You can use your meal plan to keep to a budget.

Hydrate

If you’re like me, and you also have a weird relationship with hydration—truly if it were up to me, I would just take a magical “All-The-Food-and-Water-for-the-Day” pill in the morning—I highly recommend that you find at least one healthy thing you like to drink, and slowly work it into your rotation of other drinks until you’re getting enough water every day.

I started by giving up Pepsi in favor of tea.  Then I worked my way down from a billion cups of black tea a day, to black tea in the morning and lighter caffeine and herbals in the evening.  And in the past year or two, I’ve finally started drinking just straight up water.  I don’t even know…it shouldn’t be this hard to drink water.  Limes help.

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Historian, novelist, musician, and imagination professional.

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