While the freelance life may offer personal flexibility and the creative freedom it can also be a very busy lifestyle that leaves little time for self-care.
Of course, the pandemic brought another set of problems to the table. Over the last year, 36% of freelancers reported facing difficulty finding steady work, whilst 33% have found themselves working longer hours than before the pandemic. On the other hand, 42% of freelancers actually found that their work-life balance improved in 2020 compared to 2019.
Here are some tips on how to take care of yourself among the chaos.
Hustle: productive or damaging?
As freelancers, we all know the importance of the side hustle as we aim to pay the bills and save money at the same time as pursuing our passion. However, while taking on many jobs feels great on the wallet, the mind and body can sometimes take a toll when we overbook ourselves. Recognise whether the amount of projects you are taking on is increasing your productivity or causing burnout. Signs of burnout are a lack of motivation to socialise, low libido, lack of creativity and energy.
Check on your focus
As an independent worker, you can’t rely on the motivation of co-workers sending you encouraging Slack messages or cheering you up with a matcha latte on a hard day. You are your own motivation. We recommend writing a list on Sundays, Mondays or Fridays of the things that motivated you to start this path in the first place. You can call it your purpose statement, your personal motivation, or your ‘why,’ but it all comes down to the same thing: you might not know how to move forward, but you don’t want to stay where you are.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Comparison is the thief of joy. No one else can tell you how your healthy habits journey should look or feel. Getting suggestions from your peers can be helpful, but at the end of the day, this is about you and your life. Be kind to yourself and never forget that you’ve chosen to create change out of love, and because you want the best for yourself. Your mental and physical health is the work of a lifetime.
Leave your home office and connect!
When you don’t have the built-in social network a day-to-day job provides, an online social network can fill the gap. Sure, social media can be your friend—but just like any other friendship, remember not to rely on it for everything. Face-to-face interaction is important for your mental health, so arrange meet-ups with friends and attend local events relevant to your work and personal interests.
This may sound like an obvious one but you’d be surprised how so much desk work and city trekking can prevent you from taking the time to drink water and make healthy meals and snacks. A busy lifestyle often means that we place convenience over health when it comes to consumption. The Mayo Clinic recommends about 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) of fluid each day for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) for women. Also, remember that coffee and tea don’t count in the same way as caffeine content tends to dehydrate. When you need to hydrate, water is always the best choice. It is also worth getting water and vitamin content in the form of snacks so opt for fresh fruit over dried fruit or candy bars when you can.
This one is a head-scratcher. You awake at 7am, make a coffee and should have enough time to fit pilates in but somehow your inbox of 36 new emails sucks you in so that by the time you look up at the clock, ready to work out, it’s 9am and you need to begin your workday. A simple solution is to not set high hopes for yourself. Many fitness coaches and nutritionists recommend just 20 minutes of intense interval or strength training 4 or 5 days a week accompanied by an hour walk each day. You can balance this out by doing 2-3 hour walks on Saturdays and Sundays when you have the time and by walking to your destination (or to the tube station) rather than driving or taking the bus. Aim for an average of 10,000 steps a day mixed with those quick 20 minute workouts and you won’t only be fit as a fiddle but your mental clarity will be all the more crystal clear.