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Tips for Writers on How to Manage Stress and Anxiety and Avoid Burnout

Updated on February 24, 2013

Looking after ourselves is crucial to the management of stress and anxiety for writers who wish to avoid burnout. Writing can be stressful and at times may cause many frustrations. Not being able to find the right words or having too much to say and so little time to say it in are classic symptoms that can cause undue strain on our physical and mental health.

Taking care of you is about making sure you get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet and follow a balanced exercise regime. Writing drains our bodies of nutrients and energy as much as it does our mental and spiritual wellbeing. It does this without us ever being aware while we are poring over a computer, tapping away at the keys or scribbling away at our notebooks as the thoughts flow from our minds to the written word.

Stress, Anxiety and Burnout Explained

Stress

When our bodies were intricately woven together to make this almost perfect machine, stress was as necessary to our survival as were the legs that ran away from the impending danger. While our ancestors relied on the fight or flight response to literally save their lives, it is only on rare occasions we still need this mechanism. But the instinct is strong and if there are times in our lives that we feel we are losing control, the natural response is to prepare for whatever life is about to throw at us.

Anxiety

Anxiety is that initial reaction when our senses are keen to anything or anyone that may pose a threat to our daily survival. For the writer, this can easily be turned around as a positive. Adrenalin gushing through our veins may bring on waves of inspiration and motivation. But as this overwhelming feeling subsides we can be left with a drain on our resources. Our muscles have been tense as we tap away at the keys or grip the pen way too tight in an attempt to get the words on paper as quickly as they come into our thoughts.

Burnout

Burnout occurs when stress and anxiety have been left unchecked. The old cliché – burning the candle at both ends, applies here. If we are alight with ideas and motivation and see no way out but to keep pushing ourselves until the job is done, there will be ramifications. How you manage these outcomes could mean the difference between a job well done and a recipe for some serious health risks.

Tips on Managing Stress and Anxiety

Taking a breath and a step back from the situation that is causing stress in those anxious moments are positive moves to bringing back the equilibrium. By simply paying attention to our daily routines such as the food we eat, exercise and our sleeping habits, we can prevent stress and anxiety from building to the point of burnout.

Instant Relief

  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Step away from the situation
  • Calm your mind and the thoughts within
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Eat a piece of fruit
  • Take a walk, jog or swim
  • Find someone to talk to

Positive Lasting Changes

  • Eat healthy foods at regular intervals
  • Go to bed earlier than usual
  • Exercise daily
  • Learn to meditate
  • Get organised

 

Prioritise and Reorganise for Renewed Energy

Whether you are writing the next best-selling novel, articles for HubPages or developing your own blog, taking time out to get organised in the midst of chaos can help you feel better. Simply by prioritising what has to be done today and what can wait until next week will clear your mind. Make a list and number the tasks in order of importance. For a novel you might want to start with the research for a particular chapter or working on the dialogue in a crucial scene.

Having your days and weeks mapped out in advance can relieve stress and give you a feeling of renewed energy.

Being a writer may conjure up visions of a glamorous life but the reality is many hours of hard work using not only our thought processes but every inch of our being to produce something that is ready for the reader. Manage your time well and the feelings of stress and anxiety can diminish.

Kathryn Vercillo has a couple of great articles on stress and anxiety that are well worth a read with a number of links to other helpful tips for managing stress. Follow the links on the right.

If you feel your stress is more than you can manage, do seek professional help. Talk to your family doctor if you have concerns that your health is deteriorating from stress or anxiety.

Copyright © 2011 Karen Wilton

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    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Thank you Kaniel Loughran. Too many of us get so caught up in the daily grind it is easy to forget about the things that are important to our well being.

    • Kaniel Loughran profile image

      Kaniel Loughran 7 years ago

      I appreciate your take on visceral human instincts and how they are losing their place in modern society, as well as how this impacts our daily anxiety and frustration. Very well written as well.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for reading Bilalnr and I do hope the tips are useful to you.

    • Bilalnr profile image

      Bilalnr 7 years ago from Islamabad, Pakistan

      Thanks for the tips Karanda!!!

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Getting caught up in deadlines means we forget to take care of our most basic needs at times. Yet by doing something as simple as taking a break or going for a walk can renew the energy needed to meet the deadlines. Glad you enjoyed the hub and hope the tips help Gigi.

    • profile image

      Gigi Thibodeau 7 years ago

      Great hub! I definitely get stressed about meeting various deadlines, and I need to remember to sometimes just take a break and go for a walk. Thanks for the great tips.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Take care of yourself Abdi. Writing can be very draining especially when we are writing about personal experiences.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Wonderfully put Sofs. It is important to be realistic. Rome wasn't built in a day so why do we think we can do it all by nightfall? Thank you for reading.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      It is all about the decisions we make, being realistic in our expectations, good planning and organizing can bring down stress levels to a large extent. Accept you are human... well said.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Thank you Eiddwen for your vote of confidence and 'useful'. While some find writing stressful, especially if there are deadlines, others seem to thrive. It sounds as if you are enjoying your writing and that is reflected in the Hubs we see here. Remember to look after yourself though. Even writers need to sleep!

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      CMHypno getting that work to live or live to work ratio balanced will play a big part in keeping stress and anxiety levels at a minimum. I can certainly relate to that feeling of wanting to write all day and into the night. If you won the lottery would you still write? I know I would be as driven as I am now.

    • Neverletitgo profile image

      Abdinasir Aden 7 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Very nice article, my writing skills is limeted because hub page is my first place I have ever written an article. When I need to write a new hub, I first get my topic and start my writing without knowing what is going to be my first paragraph. Believe me I write my articles on spot with giving no time to think about, that is why I make some mistakes that I could avoid if I take my time. You are right; I see a lot of frustration to think what kind article do I need to create and that is something can damage yourself especially if you give your article very short time like I do. So this is very useful and I will try to take those advises that came out the brain or mind of very wise woman, Karanda. Thanks for sharing.

      God bless you.

      Abdi

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 7 years ago from Wales

      Hi Karanda for a great hub.

      I can honestly say that at this moment in time writing has had the opposite effect on me. However I am making a few changes in the direction of my writing so that hopefully I can earn a little money along the way.

      This is a great and constructive hub Karen and thanks for sharing.

      An useful and up here in order I think

      Take care

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Best tip: win the lottery LOL! I know that one of my problems is that I feel that I should be writing from 7am-11pm each and every day. Of course, this is not possible, and that I should stop getting frustrated because I have friends, housework, shopping, and other things in life. I know that I often need to remind myself that I am working to live, and not living to work

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      You have made an interesting point b.Malin. Some writers feel they have to push themselves to get past that blank screen, others are content to let the ideas flow when and if it happens. I love it when ideas come gushing out into words but it rarely happens when there is a deadline to be met.

    • Karanda profile image
      Author

      Karen Wilton 7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for reading Mandeeadair, glad you enjoyed the tips and hope you put them to the test when you need to. Being stressout can be quite detrimental to all areas of health.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 7 years ago

      Very good tips, most enjoyable read...I only write when the ideas are fresh and new to me...I never push, unless it's there...it's not going to happen.

    • Mandeeadair profile image

      Mandeeadair 7 years ago from California

      Great hub :)! I enjoyed the tips!

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