Freelancers: Keeping Yourself Healthy

Freelancers: Keeping Yourself Healthy

It might seem to some that us freelancers must seem to lead a charmed life. We can work from home or hotdesk or avail ourselves of a number of freelancer friendly workspaces if we don’t wish to incur overhead costs. I, for example, run a coworking group here in Thirsk.

Freelancers can (at least in theory) start work whenever they like and finish whenever they wish. They have the flexibility to fit their working activities around their lifestyle and family commitments. Indeed, in many ways, it is a charmed life. However, freelancers face a struggle for balance that their salaried friends may not comprehend. They can find themselves working ridiculously long hours when up against a deadline, often going hours and hours without a break. They can go days on end without ever leaving the house. They can find themselves damaging their health in some pretty serious ways, despite their best intentions.

Sound familiar?

I’ve been freelancing for 12 years now and here are some ways I recommend you try in order to keep yourself healthy and happy in 2019.

Get Out

When a deadline looms near you may feel that every moment spent away from your computer screen is wasted. Nonetheless, it’s imperative for your mental health that you venture out every day. Take yourself for a walk, ideally somewhere where you can be close to nature. This will provide your mental health with a pick-me-up and the act of walking will help you to overcome any issues with creative block which can rarely be resolved by staring at a blank screen.

Take Care of Your Digestive Health

The life of a freelancer can often be stressful and is almost always fuelled by coffee. The bad news is that stress and coffee can be a damaging combo for gut health. Poor digestive health can have a knock-on effect on everything from the appearance of your skin to fluctuating weight and even your sleeping patterns. Be sure to eat a healthy diet and use products from Erbology.co to keep your energy levels up and your digestive health harmonious. Speaking of eating…

Give Yourself a Lunch Break

Yes, it can be hard to tear yourself away from your desk when you’re in the zone. Yes, it can be frustrating knowing that every minute you spent cooking and eating your food you’re not making money, but you can only get so much out of an empty fuel tank. Making sure that you take the time to eat can prevent the creative well from running dry while giving your brain a break will make you more productive in the long-term.

Take the Time to See Your Friends

This is important! Unlike your salaried friends, you don’t have the luxury of colleagues. People with whom you have an infinitely renewable source of banter and with whom you can engage in the kind of social repartee that is so important to your mental health. For this reason, it’s extra important that you maintain your relationships with your friends. This is something I make sure I prioritise.

Make sure that you don’t get trapped in the freelancer bubble.

 

Mental Health Issues and Support

mental health issues, strength, holding hands

Mental health issues may affect anyone, at any age, gender or location. Depression, anxiety, stress and numerous other mental health concerns don’t discriminate. They don’t care whether you earn £50k a year or struggle to make ends meet. They arrive uninvited and rarely listen to hints about it being time to move on. This is why mental health awareness and support is so important.

The list of mental health conditions that the healthcare community are aware of and may diagnose is vast. Thankfully there are a number of ways to help combat mental health issues.

IMPORTANT
If you are struggling with your mental health please see your GP or healthcare provider in the first instance. The following are all great examples of ways to look after yourself and to deal with any issues you may have and may even be suggested by your GP after assessment. These are not meant to be a substitute for medical care though.

Prioritise Self Care

Self-care is something I have written about several times in the past, from taking time out for yourself to employing meditation and mindfulness in your everyday life. Self-care can go a long way to helping to lessen anxiety, stress and more. Go for a walk, call a friend, have a down day, go for a swim, light candles and binge-watch something. Life can be tiring. It is ok to take time out to reboot, to rest and to find some balance.

Stay Active

Exercise is known to improve confidence, self-esteem and offer physical benefits too from helping you sleep to encouraging clarity of thought. You don’t need to join a gym or a class. Walk around the garden or around the block. Get some fresh air at lunchtime. Consider yoga or pilates from home if not at a local class. Physical activity can go a long way towards helping you destress, for example.

In The Moment Help

Sometimes you need more immediate help. If, for example, you struggle with anxiety, have a grab bag, something you can get hold of easily with items which help you. A notebook, a drink, a squeezy ball, a paper bag, essential oils; any tools that help you keep calm, stave off a panic attack and give you back a little control. There are phone apps aimed towards meditation and even talking you through a sudden moment of upset and panic. Having something there and present, either to calm you down or uplift you, can be a great way to help manage some of the symptoms of mental health issues.

Talk to Someone

Your GP should be your first port of call if you are struggling with mental health issues. That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t speak to someone else in the meantime or at any point. Speak to a trusted friend or family member, consider online therapy, ask about local support groups or consider anyone you might feel comfortable speaking to about where you are at and how you are feeling. Mental health concerns are nothing to be embarrassed about. They are more common than you might suppose and don’t have the stigma attached that you once did.

Everyone is Different

When it comes to stress, anxiety, depression and/or any other mental health conditions we all feel differently, react differently and require different levels of support. What might work for one person may not work for another. For this reason, communicating with your health team is important as they will be able to help you work out what you need and ensure that it is available to you.

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