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On Being a Healthy Blogger

Today in the NYT there’s a piece about bloggers blogging til they drop and the impact of blogging on health. I’ve been asked numerous times since the article came out for comment and I’ve had a few random thoughts. Let me post them as a stream of consciousness type post:

  • For starters I think people in all occupations can get stressed and suffer from ill health. I’ve had friends pass away from and survive heart attacks who work in numerous fields – including blogging. I’m a little skeptical that blogging is any more stressful than other professions – yes it can be a pressure cooker of a job – but I wonder if it’s more about the person, the way they deal with pressure, the choices that they make and the boundaries that they put around themselves etc than the occupation itself.
  • Having said that – I’ve had my own little health scare of late with diagnosis of high blood pressure which my doctor thinks could partly be a stress related thing and perhaps related to work. It’s too early to tell and tests go on but it’s becoming clear that I need to make a few more changes in my life in addition to my own increased attempts to eat healthy and exercise more (something I’ve done since late last year). Tomorrow I’m wearing a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours – I’ll be interested to see if it rises or falls when I’m blogging!
  • I can see how bloggers might suffer from the impact of a lack of exercise and poor diet. Blogging can be highly addictive and the temptation to blog through meal breaks, skip opportunities to exercise and to eat poorly is no doubt there for most of us. I know until late last year my exercise routines all went completely out the window and I began to put on weight.
  • Lack of sleep is another common thing that many of us as bloggers fall into the trap of. I know of quite a few others who suffer from insomnia as a result of blogging right up until bed time and then not being able to ‘switch off’.
  • Another health related aspect of blogging is that I’ve come across a large number of bloggers lately who suffer from the effects of sitting on poor chairs all day every day. I know for the first few years of my own blogging ‘career’ that I had this problem from sitting on a kitchen chair and then a poor office chair all day. More recently with an investment in a ergonomic chair my back’s been a lot better.

Further Reading:

Let me leave you with three posts on ‘healthy blogging’ – all from Lea Woodward.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Court says:

    I find that my blogging is a lot better when I maintain balance. That means I need to work out, eat right, and maintain healthy, social relationships. Once I let myself get out of whack, my blogging starts to suffer because I’m not as happy.

  2. Vered says:

    You recently asked your readers about their blogging mistakes. There were tons of comments, of course, many of them focusing on things like “I should have posted more regularly” or “I should have worked harder”. But one comment really bothered me: the commenter was sick with the flu for 10 days, couldn’t post and lost a lot of traffic. He was mad at himself for not having a stash of pre-written posts for cases like this.

    I thought, BUT YOU ARE A PERSON, not just a blogger. You are entitled to have a life outside of blogging. and if your blog has a smaller readership because you have a life outside of it, then that should be OK.

    I too struggle with balancing blogging with “real life”. Blogging is fun and rewarding, but my real life – my husband, my kids, my job, exercising and socializing, even my household – come first.

  3. Nisha says:

    I have to compromise with my health aspects atleast for some days of my blogging career…As i am very busy now a days in constructing a blog http://www.technotip.org
    we all may say that health is much more important then blogging. ya, i too agree that, but we young blooded guys and girls wont take it seriously until u are trapped in some health problems.
    I know all these, but still till date I was not able to sleep befor 1:00 night.

  4. ourmonmouth says:

    Darren-
    I really was a bit surprised by the NYT article, I felt the story was tabloid and made quite a stir in the blogoshpere (maybe NYT had purpose?). I don’t believe this is a blogging issue. People work themselves to death every day, some by choice and others by necessity. Balance is the key to a healthier lifestyle.

    “Everything in excess is opposed to nature”. – Hippocrates

  5. Mandy says:

    I put pressure on myself to reach goals with my blogging, but at the end of the day I have a family and I need to be realistic about what I can achieve every day.

    If that means that it takes a little longer to get to my blogging goals then so be it. I’m going to be no use as a successful blogger if I’m ill with health problems!

  6. Satisfyte says:

    I can only hope that my stress-induced malaise comes from blogging someday and not the lifeless torture of corporate life.

    Any job can harm you, really, if you’re viewing it as work and letting it interfere with the essentials like eating and sleeping…and playing Wii.

  7. Hugo says:

    I think I might want to set a default moment each day to write. I find myself staying up late because I want to write an article to keep my freshly started blog up and running, while during the day I don’t have time because of other projects/work – I am not a pro-blogger, yet :)
    This results in a lack of sleep which influences the blogging as well as the work on other projects. So I guess I’m with Court concerning this!

  8. Kishor says:

    What about arthritis? Is it common?

  9. Most bloggers work inside which means that most bloggers should be sure to check their vitamin D levels! Even in Australia it’s been shown that there is a serious vitamin D deficiency problem. There are also correlations between high blood pressure and low vitamin D. Muscle and joint pain (due to all of that typing) can also be a sign of low vitamin D. I’m not trying to sell you anything, just something for my fellow bloggers to check in to if you’re not feeling well.

  10. Roman says:

    I think it all depends on a how a particular person deals with the situation. I think there is no doubt that compared to corporate lifestyle blogging if done the right way is less stressfull. Just think about it:
    -you have flexible hours, you can go for a walk or visit you mother for a lunch whenever you feel like
    -you don’t have to deal with corporate inability to make decesions
    -you don’t have to live with the decesions on top being made not because they make sense, but because of the pure emotions
    -and of course there is no boss above you that micro-manages everything you do

    Just take time to unplug and see the real world. Actually use the benefits of the freedom thay bloggin gives you over your 9-5 rat race

  11. I bought my own chair because I need to be comfortable :D

  12. Jarel says:

    I find myself falling prey to sleep deprivation the most. I work out frequently and eat well but without enough sleep everything starts to suffer.

    Good post Darren. :-)

  13. I am getting tired of the NY Times article getting over hyped. As many have said, people die all the time doing many different things. Just because a few died while blogging, does that make blogging unhealthy? People die during exercising all the time. Are they going to say that exercise is unhealthy too?

  14. Duncan says:

    I’ve found the biggest stressor has been posture – sitting for long periods of time at a laptop is not good for the neck or back. Having a better chair helped. Taking regular breaks as well.

  15. Sheamus says:

    I’d file the ‘risk’ of ill-health to blogging alongside the scares surrounding people playing video games excessively; while the odd freak person might do it to a point where they get ill (or worse), for most (normal) folk it won’t even be an issue.

    It’s always a balance; everything is 50/50. Meet me somewhere in the middle, and we’ll have an okay time.

  16. I really think that if you become more unhealthy because of blogging, you’re blogging for all the wrong reasons. You should blog for the stress relief and the camaraderie that comes with the connections you get blogging.

    I enjoy blogging on http://www.fortunecookienotes.com because I use the sayings on the fortune cookie to express my thoughts on different life experiences. I love the medium for self expression and privacy it gives me.

  17. I think it’s all about balance. An addiction to anything is usually unhealthy, as it pushes other healthy aspects out of your life. It can be blogging or playing worlds of warcraft. You can even be addicted to exercise, for crying out loud.

    On another note, I recently read an article saying that the act of sitting actually prevents you from burning fat. Standing is fine, but sitting all day really impairs this process. If this is true, it might pay to stand up and walk around, or maybe stand up while blogging, lol.

    - Dave

  18. Darren, I hope you get your health in check!

    I read the NY Times article and stumbled it since it’s so important. It was funny because I’d been thinking about the same thing for myself (and blogged about it yesterday) because I’ve been feeling like I’ve let my own health and fitness slide down the priority scale – but no more! I have to put my health at the top, otherwise everything else falls apart.

    One thing the NY Times article made me grateful for was that I chose to blog about my own experiences related to health, fitness, and weight loss instead of trying to jump on the newest stuff coming down the pike – maybe it’s just me but I think that time pressure blogging (like about celebrities) would be too stressful.

  19. phil says:

    Just a word on proper posture… I know from experience… I suffer an ongoing (but repairing) herniated disc…C7 to be precise. I had all this pain in my shoulder, etc. and mentioned it to my neighbor. He just so happened to have the same thing and directed me to a great sports medicine doc… who diagnosed my problem. What is/was the cause: poor posture. A year or two of slumping in my chair (because it felt comfortable) and extending my neck caused a pinch of the nerve at C7. So now I sit in an erect sort of way and remind myself constantly to take little breaks. And I never skip exercise.

    (Just an aside: my neighbor, while he may have had the same problem, he herniated the disc by training for the Beijing Olympics as a shot-putter. We are not in the same league, just the same neighborhood!).

  20. As people who work from home we’re in a prime position to create lifestyles that are the exact opposite of what was noted in the NY Times article, but it does really take concentrated effort.

    Two things I find to be health lifesavers are:

    *Taking a break every hour or so, to get up, eat a little something, walk around, go outside, stretch

    *Changing my work schedule with the seasons so that I have more time to play outdoors.

    Right now I’m doing a Springtime schedule that gives me free time between 8:30am and evening (I work in the early morning and the evening so the day is free)

    Experimenting with unconventional schedules is something that most of us can do, and it really helps with morale too!

  21. Frugal Dad says:

    Blogging, like anything else, requires the discipline to stand up and walk away every now and then. I’ve fallen into the trap of writing, commenting and researching for hours on end. I try to force myself to stand up and walk around the house, or go outside for a brief walk, or spend some time with my family as a small break.

  22. What you have are symptoms of information overload my friend, it includes the feeling of tension and cold sweat as well as light nausea at times. Hey it’s part of the occupational hazard in this industry, and for the cure you might want to check out:

    http://www.feedbacksecrets.com/symptoms-of-information-overload/102/

  23. Brad V. says:

    Great post Darren!

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the age of the bloggers that died. One was 60 and another was 50. I wonder if age and other lifestyle choices unrelated to blogging contributed more to their untimely death then blogging actually did? Right now the evidence that blogging greatly contributed to their death seems a little anecdotal.

    With that said, it still raises a larger issue of finding balance in your life – no matter what your career is. People like bloggers should just be a little more careful about diet and make sure they get plenty of exercise (I should take my own advice).

    I wish you luck with your high blood pressure and hope you can overcome it. Hopefully your doctors discovered it early on and can treat it without any trouble.

    Thanks for the great post!

  24. I am sure deaths from stress related diseases can be found in all competitive career fields.

  25. OldSailor says:

    Healthy food, good sleep and fresh air are necessary for a healthy blogger.

  26. Chetan says:

    Am actually a dental student and have good knowledge at medicine etc. too. I am compiling a list of risky conditions that occur due to more blogging or sitting at a single place. Hope to get it approved as a guest post in this blog Darren :)

  27. Lance T says:

    I’d also like to stress the importance of staying away from processed foods and drinks. It is so easy to grab a can of cola and a bag of chips as a quick snack to curb the hunger, and quickly get back to the online networking frenzy.
    Give your body the nutrients it is begging for, not the processed chemically synthesized junk foods that have zero nutritional value!

  28. Hi darren its true.As a blogger its hard to complete many other things.To be frank i used to chill out time with my friends and my family some few months back,but when i stepped into blogging spending more nights than day time has becoms more than a hobby.Now my friends are more angry than they were before because i cant manage to take some time out of my routine and dine with them.It would be more painful for lovers if one of them is a blogger.Its hard that the other gender accepts or understands.Sickness has become part and parcel of blogging these days.We need to give all these things for atleast a year or so if we need to be a good blogger and generate revenue from this.A good tip for bloggers who missed their girl friends(Just kidding dont take it to heart)you can find a GF on blogging.A doctor has advised me to take half an hour rest after every hour.I thought at first”Joke of the millenium”,but later understood when i had to go through different phases of illhealth.So,people be cautious you can be a full time blogger but do find atleast an hour or two to chill with your friends or family than a complete money machine.Lets learn many other things from Darren he writes technically now he has given the true phase of our life.Lets buy his experience which he is releasing as a book.Congrats darrenHope your book will make more peolpe comfortable and especially the newbies.

  29. Joe Cheray says:

    I posted an article about this over at

    http://joe.bloggingexpertise.com/205/your-health-and-your-blogging/

    @ourmonmouth I do agree it did seem tabloid’ ish and the author of the article should have looked in contributing factors more closely and also should have backed his story up with supporting health data.

    To Darren’s readers who commented on his post here please take a moment to also check my article out as to what I had to say about this. This has also been a source of discussion over at Web Pro News by Jason Lee Miller.

  30. My Rules for Healthy Blogging:

    1. Define blogging hours and stick to them.
    That helps for better organizing and tunung the mind.

    2. Sleep well and sleep enough.
    If you don’t sleep enough, you’ve got no creativity and mood for blogging.

    3. Exercise before blogging.
    I do a short – 30 minutes – fast walk in the neighbourhood. This stimulates my body and my mind and prepares me for the blogging process.

    4. Focus on blogging when blogging.
    When I am going to blog I forget about everything. No eating. No drinking. No phone calls. This helps me do the things faster and be more effective.

    5. Eat fresh food.
    The good food stimulates my brain and the whole body. I tend to eat more fruits, vegetables and nuts. Everythign that stimulates my boy and mind helps me stay healthy and be a better blogger.

    I hope these rules could be useful for you.

    Good luck,
    William

  31. Great points — I think a lot of them apply to anyone in desk-based jobs, not just bloggers.

    Maybe once I achieve the dream of quitting-the-day-job-and-freelancing, I’ll sell The Office Diet and launch The Blogger Diet … ;-)

    Ali

  32. suresh says:

    Any kind of job under stress gives problems and blogging as a serious and full time job is of more strain as the success of blog is only partially in the hands of blogger.
    Little walk makes a difference.

  33. Ben says:

    I think the biggest problem is that everyone takes things too seriously causing undo stress. You need to learn to enjoy life a lot more. Taking a walk, riding a bike, hanging with friends and family are a lot more important than spending hours everyday blogging. Besides, when is the last time your computer gave you a hug?

    So, step away from the computer and go do something that is fun.

  34. Mauro says:

    Hi Darren,

    you and problogger.com are also mentioned in a piece about blogger’s health, 2 days ago, on the main Italian newspaper (il Corriere).
    Here’s an online version of the piece:
    http://www.corriere.it/scienze_e_tecnologie/08_aprile_06/stress_blog_salute_abe29fc6-0400-11dd-bca3-00144f486ba6.shtml

  35. JQK says:

    Stress can nip away at our health without our even realizing it.

    Being in a prolonged battle with an undefeatable opponent is among the worst of stressors.

    When a blog is allowed to be viewed as an ‘opponent’, to be conquered, it can be devastating, over time. Because, no matter how many times you punch it, even knock it to the mat, it never STAYS down. It always springs back, spits in your face and screams for more!

    I try to see it as a friend, a demanding one perhaps, but a friend nevertheless. A friend that I enjoy spending time with…on my terms.

    The key factor is enjoyment, when my blog turns on me, as it sometimes does, it is no longer enjoyable or healthy..it’s time to walk away…for awhile (guilt free).

  36. Robin says:

    I do think the article, and its subsequent spread everywhere on the internet, has exaggerated the issue. It’s really raising issues that are relevant to any walk of life – if you take on too much then you’ll get overstressed.

    That being said, I think it does raise a few issues about blogging either for money or on professional topics. Getting into blogging for an income is a dangerous route to take, as much because you need to have a passion and desire to write rather than just a desire to make money. When you don’t have that passion then perhaps there is a greater attempt to provide sheer quantity, but it’s quality than wins out.

    And the quality is the big thing. Even though most of the advice about writing in general, and developing blog traffic specifically, talks about the importance of writing every day…sometimes I think that goes too far. Sometimes it’s just not worth pushing yourself to write something mediocre, it’s better to take a break. Come back refreshed and write one great article and your blog will be more desirable than one with three dull equivalents.

  37. Jaclyn says:

    Darren, it’s good to hear your thoughts on this subject and I think it’s important you’re taking it seriously because it seems like a lot of people are focusing on the qualms they have with the story, rather than focusing on the underlying health issues, which most seem to be in agreement about.

    I just put up a post on this with Gen. Y bloggers’ reactions to the article – http://schiffreport.blogspot.com/2008/04/generation-y-bloggers-respond-to-nyt.html

  38. TeasasTips says:

    Blogging is like most anything else, you can overdo it. There needs to be a balance in life, period. Nothing can substitute for that.

    As one commenter said, exercise, eating right, taking regular breaks.

    I treat blogging like a real job. I start at the same time each day, take breaks at specified times, go to lunch and I get off at the same time each day.

    Right now I’m breaking my rule, because I just had surgery and am still sleeping off the anesthesia (great stuff!)

    But for the most part, there needs to be some normalcy in your life. I feel bad for the survivors of the bloggers that died.

  39. Tamera says:

    A sedentary lifestyle is dangerous, and the effects sneak up on one. Bloggers are definitely in the danger zone, as are the younger generation of computer users. Get up and stretch, everyone!

  40. Terry Finley says:

    I’m not trying to be smart,
    but health is a human concern
    not a blogging concern. The
    connection is indirect at best.

  41. SpaceAgeSage says:

    Since I started my blog in February, I have sat more at the computer than ever before (51 posts as of today!). My eyesight started getting a bit fuzzy. I even used Control + to make screen text larger, but then some headaches started, so I finally went to get an eye exam. Dr. says that in the older person … ahem … the eye tissue gets thicker and my total focus for too long at one distance made my eyes get so used to that distance that they strained to change focus when I got up from the computer. The Dr. also said that my once 20-10 eyesight had changed. I am now using “cheaters,” as my uncle calls them, otherwise known as over the counter reading glasses. The headaches are gone, but I still think I will eat more carrots and take more breaks!

  42. Chris says:

    You so totally hit the nail on the head! Going on my 20th straight day of work, web design, and blogging, I’m exhausted. Thanks for reminding me and everyone else, to take a break.

  43. Michael says:

    I think that the NYT article was ridiculous, any job can be stressful and there are many jobs that are much worse than blogging, I don’t really understand why they would waste time writing an article like this instead of educating people on issues that really matter, like maybe the war that the US is in or maybe explaining what the issue is with Tibet and China.

  44. Anna says:

    Darren, you mentioned something I would like to elaborate on. The chair that you sit in is very very important. I was blogging while sitting in a wooden chair. My rear and back were killing me. Since I blog about green products, I went out and bought a used Steelcase office chair, which is amazingly comfortable. I practiced the 3Rs by buying a used chair, saved me some green since it was 1/3rd of the price, and my neck and back are now happy campers. (You can see my new spanking used chair on my site!) So, there is no excuses not to get a comfortable chair. Who needs neck and back issues? There are used office furniture stores all over the place.

    Also, all jobs can be stressful. Before blogging, I was a lawyer. (Well, I still am but don’t practice now.) Talk about stress…

  45. Hi Darren,

    It’s good that you remind us to be healthy at all times. I made a similar post about a month ago and ironically, I made it after I was hospitalized. Although the cause was not really related to blogging, I asked my doctor about my blogging health.

    Your post has similar advise from my doctor esp. the chair. However, I want to add one more thing. You see, here in the Philippines desk top is still a bit popular than laptop.

    I strongly suggest that it should be cleaned outside everyday before using to remove the accumulated dust the whoie day.

    Thanks.

  46. lorenzo says:

    I bought this chair:

    http://www.csnchairs.com/Herman-Miller%AE-AE211PWxT-HML1016.html

    for work and I love it. And as an added bonus, it’s eco-friendly :)

  47. Jeremiah says:

    So many truths in this article.

    I’m currently reading it at 3am because I can’t “switch off” from blogging late into the evening.

    Oh and I’m sick right now, probably from lack of “not blogging”.

    I don’t even have a chair, I blog slumped over on my couch. Well I actually have a home office with a computer chair, but I always end up on the couch with my macbook.

    You’ve got me thinking it’s time to turn over a new leaf. Thanks for the great post!