5 wellness tips to boost your health as a freelancer
Self-employment, while flexible and potentially lucrative, can be a threat to your overall well-being. For most of your career as a freelancer, you might be susceptible to a sedentary lifestyle that increases your risk for postural issues and eating disorders.
A deterioration in your health could affect your production and ultimately cost you your job. Therefore, it is important to take proactive steps in managing your health. Here are some valuable tips for improving and maintaining your health as a freelancer.
How freelancing could lead to poor health
Freelance work can be just as demanding as a regular full-time job, if not more. While this gives you work autonomy, having to respond effectively to requests from multiple clients can cause you to neglect other aspects of your life.
You may find yourself sitting in one place for hours, having long screen times, skipping meals, distancing yourself from family and friends, and voluntarily withdrawing from social activities. Doing all of these things over and over can lead to several unhealthy habits. And in turn, these habits could affect your vision, social life, posture, sleep, and eating habits.
Tips to improve your health as a freelancer
The good part is that these bad habits are preventable. You can manage your well-being without jeopardizing your freelancing career. Here are some tips to make this achievable.
1. Protect your vision
Digital screens, including laptops, smartphones and televisions, emit blue light which, at particularly high intensities over long periods of time, can be harmful to your eyes. Unfortunately, the majority of your work as a freelancer requires being on a screen, from finding clients to closing a deal and completing a task. This puts you at risk of phone or computer eye strain (which you can alleviate), as well as blurred vision and constant headaches.
One way to take care of your eyes is to use blue light blocking glasses. These types of glasses aim to limit the blue light waves coming from your work devices. Alternatively, you can set your laptop or phone screen to “eye care” settings or night mode to relieve side effects of prolonged use.
For lasting solutions, consider planning and limiting your screen time. Apps like Freedom and Space can be incredibly helpful in this regard. Using blue light blocking glasses and setting your laptop or phone to night mode will only go so far. The best way to take care of your eyes is to minimize screen time and take intermittent breaks away from your workstation to look outside and get some fresh air.
2. Watch your diet
One of the downsides of freelancing is having tight schedules that leave you with little or no time to make healthy food choices. Deadlines and work pressures make it easy to resort to poorly prepared processed meals. Worse still, you might skip breakfast or eat late at night. These eating habits are detrimental to your overall well-being.
To avoid such scenarios, plan your schedule adequately to give yourself enough time to cook your meals in advance. Meal planning apps like MyNetDiary, MyPlate calorie counter, Nameand Delicious can be invaluable. If you have the budget, you can also contact a chef to cook your meals at home or order takeout from trusted brands with healthy menus. And don’t forget to stay hydrated with apps like WaterMinder!
3. Maintain a fitness routine
The easiest way to manage the sedentary lifestyle that comes with freelance work is to participate in fitness activities before or after your work time. These activities are health boosters that greatly improve your well-being. They also help you supplement your work routine with optimal endurance and strength to help you avoid burnout.
You can engage in home fitness activities that don’t require going to a gym. Some popular exercises are chair squats, jumping jacks, desk push-ups, desk planks, 10-minute walks, floor push-ups, and squat jumps. Most importantly, consistency is key to getting the maximum results from these activities. As much as you want to exercise only when it suits you, you should know that it is necessary for a healthy life.
Infuse a variety of exercises into your daily routine to help you stay consistent both on the days you feel like it and the days you don’t. While you’re at it, you can get a smartwatch or just an app to help track your fitness journey. You can also download reminders to notify you when to stop sitting and moving around, like Rise, Awakeningand StretchMinder.
4. Maintain good posture
Good posture is when the body is in symmetrical alignment. However, having good posture is often far-fetched for most freelancers. Your neck, arms, shoulders, waist, and back can become stiff due to long working hours, poor sitting posture, and lack of movement. It starts with a pop when stretching certain parts of the body, then turns into pain and even numbness on severe occasions.
To improve your posture:
- Invest in an ergonomic office chair to prevent slouching and support your spinal alignment and lower back.
- Buy a sturdy desk.
- Adjust the chair to a height aligned with the desk and make it comfortable for you.
These essentials work specifically to minimize back pain. Also, do exercises that strengthen your muscles, like biking, lifting weights, dancing, doing push-ups, and climbing stairs (if your apartment has them). More importantly, you need to work on increasing your mobility. You can also download posture monitoring and improving apps like posture friend, posture reminderand Perfect posture and healthy back to help with postural correction.
5. Prioritize healthy sleep habits
Sleep is a naturally recurring event where the body and mind are at rest. It’s also a great way to recharge and refresh for increased productivity. Since fatigue, exhaustion, and brain drain are common occurrences among freelancers, developing an achievable bedtime routine is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
An adult needs an average of seven to nine hours of quality sleep, depending on US Centers for Disease Control. But quality sleep goes beyond duration; you should feel well rested when you wake up. To do this, try to brush, bathe and do a little exercise each day before drawing your curtains.
Moreover, according to the American Heart Association, a sleep-deprived adult may be at higher risk for depression, anxiety, stroke and diabetes. So, give yourself the rest you need by analyzing your schedule and blocking in hours of rest. Do you have more responsibilities in the morning, afternoon or night? Either way, organize your priorities intentionally, making sure you get enough hours of sleep.
Also, avoid caffeine and stimulants, as they can make it difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. If you are experiencing symptoms of insomnia, go to a licensed health center for proper care and medication.
A healthy lifestyle helps you stay on top of your freelancing career
The independent lifestyle can be exhausting and bad for your health. However, knowing what to watch out for and applying the tips in this article can help you stay healthy and productive in the long run.