“No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks”
Do you remember this back from your days in school? You say it with a bright smile on your face. Then you’d shout “FREEDOM!”
It does sound funny looking back. After all, school is a never ending cycle really – at least for the next 19 years for a 3 year old. And after 2 months, you’re back at school for another 10 months just to shout ‘FREEDOM!” — again.
To add fuel to that, we all know that at the end of school, following most of the people before you, you would be ending up in a 9-5 job (or worse with expected overtime without pay).
Doesn’t the employee setup remind you of school?
You get up early in the morning and get scolded if you’re late. While you’re at the office, you can’t wait to finish work so you can go home early. The unfortunate truth is that there’s no yearly 2 month break.
You’d be lucky to get 20 days of rest days and luckier if your employer will allow you to get all those days in one go.
But is it really freedom that we want from school or from work? After all, you can’t be free from doing something your whole life. You see, it’s not freedom that you want. You simply want to take charge.
Yes, you want to learn something not because that’s the curriculum set by the school or the government. Can you imagine yourself now as a child growing up and learning? If you were in charge, what would you have wanted to learn at the age of 11? Or even at the age of 7?
I’ve always seen the freelancer as a self-directed learner. You learn something because you need it for you next gig. Or you feel that, it’s the next big thing and you can’t be left behind.
As a freelancer, you take charge of your business.
You’re not an employee anymore who’s at the mercy of corporate politics.
You also don’t have a contract for a monthly salary. You train yourself to become a go-getter for the next big thing.
But you need to take care of your most precious asset. – your health.
You have to take charge of your own health and lifestyle
Some would say that one of the things that prevent them from freelancing is the absence of a healthcare plan.
I’m not going to list down the different health care plans available for self-employed individuals. By the way, there are options out there.
I’m saying, take charge of it from a different point of view. Our goal here is to avoid even making those trips to the doctor.
Here are 7 tips for freelancers to live a healthier lifestyle.
1) Stand up more
According to the researchers on adult health, a number of health concerns such as increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, increased cholesterol levels and increased abdominal fat have been link to sitting for long periods of time.
Not to mention, it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
But what can you do? Hey.. you’re not in your standard office anymore. Go ahead and adjust your work area. Even popular furnishing stores such as IKEA have products for standing tables – and yes, some stores even offer those that can go from a sitting table to a standing table in seconds.
Take charge and redesign your workspace.
2) Schedule breaks
Scheduling meetings? Scheduling tasks? Schedule your breaks.
You’ve heard about not missing meals. You’ve probably heard too much about it. But I’m not talking about meal breaks. I’m talking about those small breaks during long stretches of work.
Honestly, how many of you needed to go to the bathroom to pee yet delayed it for a minute, and then 5 minutes, and then….
Holding in your urine can make your bladder become a breeding ground for bacteria. With bacteria come the infection and it can spread to your kidneys and other parts of your body. It’s not a good scenario.
If done frequently, it can also cause nerve damage to the bladder muscles. You wouldn’t want to be incontinent at the age of 40 would you?
Remember, you may have a deadline in the next hour or 30 minutes. But you have something to take care of inside you for the next 30 years or so. What’s the point of becoming a freelancer if you won’t be enjoying life, right?
Of course if you feel the need to pee yet your break doesn’t come in the next 10 minutes, it would be foolish not to go. The point is to listen to what your body needs. After all, your Mac is not the most important resource of your freelance business — it’s your body.
Give some time for your back to recover after every few hours. Stretch a bit. Jump around to loosen up the muscles in your eyes. It may only take 5 minutes.
Having mentioned not holding in urine, don’t ever thinking of cutting down your water intake just so you can avoid bathroom trips.
3) Have a big container of water and a cup beside you
Since taking breaks is hard enough for you, cut down the time you spend to drink water by having it easily accessible.
Feeling tired even if you’ve had enough rest? Drink some water.
The words in front of you not making enough sense? Drink some water.
Every cell and organ in your body needs water, including your brain. Why deprive it?
You don’t want constipation or even mildly elevated blood pressure interfering with your next deadline would you?
Having a 1.5 liter bottle of water will help you track how much water you have drunk, and yet to drink while working, assuming you work mostly during the day. We need approximately 1.9 liters a days so you can make your own estimate of what you need beside you, depending on how long you work.
4) Sleep smarter
I can’t over emphasize sleeping smarter. I’m not saying getting enough sleep. I’m saying sleep smarter. How many times did you have to wake up at a certain time in the morning and decide to sleep early so you can wake up easily? I bet you still felt tired throughout the day even if you clocked more hours of sleep.
2 things you need to check:
a) Are you waking up at the right time during your sleep cycle? We go through cycles during our sleep, from transition to sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, then there’s the REM stage. If your alarm goes off during your deep sleep, you’re going to hate waking up. Based on the time you sleep, you need to know a good estimate of when to wake up in the morning based on time you are having light sleep.
Sleep cycle apps are now widely available such as the sleepyti.me app. Check out which one works well with you.
b) The second question is do you snore?
Although snoring doesn’t always mean you have sleep apnea, it is worth finding out if you are truly sleeping soundly. Sleep apnea deprives you of quality sleep as you lose oxygen getting in your brain. So check out your app websites and try out those snore tracking apps.
Similar to making it a point to charge our gadgets’ batteries before we set out during the day, sleep is our own way of charging our body for another productive freelance day.
5) Choose your energy boosters well
We’ve all heard of how energy drinks are not healthy in the long run, so let’s not even go there.
Some have shown proof citing coffee as a good source of antioxidants but again, listen to your body. If taking a few cups of coffee leaves you trembling or not being able to sleep, then it’s time to watch the number of cups you drink.
If you want an alternative booster, try fruits instead. Fruits help stabilize your blood sugar but if you have a family history of diabetes, you may want to have fruits in moderation.
Others perform exercises in the morning and attest to its effect of increasing their energy levels throughout the day.
Even a short Whatsapp chat with your significant other or with a friend you haven’t kept in touch with in a long time can serve as a good energy booster.
Or what about a 5 minute cuddle with a pet?
The key is having a mental stash of boosters that can keep you going throughout the day or week. You can even have a dice in front of you with a list of six boosters on the side. Whenever you’re low on energy, roll the dice and use the booster it chooses for you.
6) Keep your eye on the prize
We can easily become stressed by deadlines, inefficient tech support, or a bad internet connection. Always put things in perspective during crunch time.
What’s your end goal for all this? Early retirement, a family estate, education expenses of your children? Have a dream board beside you to serve as a reminder of why you’re doing this freelance work. It will keep you aligned to your goals during hard decisions that you have to make.
Will option A lead me closer to my goal, or will option B get me off track? Let your dreams help you decide.
7) Go out with real friends or spend alone time
While there’s no right or wrong answer here, you have to understand that this really depends on your personality.
We all need to recharge but take note that going out in a social setting doesn’t always recharge everyone. You need to understand if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. If you’re an introvert, you may prefer evening strolls by yourself or maybe hanging out in a café with a good book, away from screens for a change.
Always remember, it’s not freedom that you’re after, it’s taking charge. Take charge of your decisions, take charge of your lifestyle, take charge of your health. The key to happy freelancing is living a healthy life that you can enjoy for a long time.
Would you like to share healthy tips you abide by as a freelancer? Share it with us below.
Written by Kath Pompa-Calagui, a freelancer and a mom of two. Kath helps businesses grow their leads through content marketing research and social media strategy — all done from home. During her free time, she enjoys supporting other mothers through www.hotmamatalks.com.