By Amy Isler, MSN, RN
Senior Reporter
January 26, 2022

7 minutes to read

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    3 Small Habit Tweaks to Avoid Sitting Too Long at Your Desk

    standing desk

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    Happy Wellness Wednesday, my fellow freelance nurse writers!  

    One of my favorite aspects of being a school nurse is that every day is different with constant moving around. As nurses, we know the risks of a sedentary lifestyle such as obesity, depression, and cardiovascular disease. Still, it is easy to forget these hidden dangers when we are…sitting at our desks in sedentary fashion while we’re busy learning how to become freelance writers.

    Getting into a flow state is my favorite part of writing. That often means that hours go by without taking a break to move my body, grab a drink of water, or even go to the bathroom. To avoid these health pitfalls of the freelance lifestyle, try these easy tips on how you can incorporate movement into your writing routine.

    Take Short, Frequent Breaks

    Your biggest priority as a freelance writer may be finding distraction-free writing time, so taking a break might not be on your current to-do list. According to experts, the rule of thumb to minimize long periods of sitting is to take a short 5-minute break for every 30 minutes of desk work. 

    A few tips on how to incorporate this practice into your routine can include:

    • Set a timer when you sit down. You can find all kinds of fun desk timers, from tomato-shaped ones (for those who follow the Pomodoro Technique) to ones that look like dice
    • Incorporate a break with an activity that involves moving (throw in a load of laundry, vacuum, tidy up).
    • 5 minutes of stretching 
    • Stand up during phone calls and interviews
    • Listen to your activity monitor when it tells you to get moving.

    Taking a short break can also help refocus your mind, rejuvenate fresh ideas, and boost your mood. According to Psychology Today, breaks are also an excellent way  to reset your prefrontal cortex so the next 30 minutes of work will be more productive and creative. Research has also shown that those incredible “aha moments” that we all strive for come after a short break.

    Ditch the Chair

    During the last two years, thanks to COVID, building healthy habits while working from home has been a frequent headline. One of the biggest trends is ditching the desk chair and using an elevated desk that requires you to stand instead. Or, take it one step further and put a treadmill under that standing desk and walk while you work. 

    Personally, I can get behind the standing desk. I’m not sure I’m coordinated enough to walk on a treadmill while also trying to write meaningful health articles. However, fellow freelance writer Abbi Perets has successfully integrated the treadmill desk into her daily writing routine. She outlines the benefits of moving while working as a guest blogger for Write It Sideways:

    • You get used to walking in a manner of minutes 
    • Easier to focus
    • Wakes you up
    • Helps you meet your daily step goal (for those that wear activity trackers)
    • Promotes a good night’s sleep

    While the cost of a treadmill desk might not be in the cards for those of us just starting our business, you can check out this helpful article that breaks it all down, The Best Treadmill Desks for 2022.

    Walk and Learn

    I want to talk about one of my new favorite discoveries of all time…the podcast. This tip is something I have personally found to be super helpful in generating my motivation to write and work my business. Combining walking with learning is a great way to utilize a break from your desk. Here are some of my favorite go-to podcasts that help me grow as a nurse writer and a business owner.

    Walking while immersed in a podcast can be a very joyful way to spend your energy during a break from writing. Of course, a great pair of earbuds like those from Skullcandy or Beats by Dr. Dre can make the experience all the more pleasant!

    Wellness Wednesday means that we have made it halfway through the week! Don’t forget to take a break from your schedule today to move your body and drink some water. Also, if you have time, take some precious moments to take a walk, learn something new, and clear your head so all your fantastic writing ideas can present themselves. 

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    Amy Isler, MSN, RN

    Amy Isler, RN, MSN, CSN is a registered nurse and freelance writer who has over six years of experience working as a credentialed school nurse managing children with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, seizures, and food allergies.