Working for yourself is not all play: as a freelancer you are often juggling several roles other than that of your main activity, to ensure that you have clients and regular income, in order to not fall into stressful financial instability.
Freelancing is a like a tightrope act, because you continuously have to seek a balance. This is why it’s particularly important to take care of yourself. As the Chinese proverb says: ”Take care of your body so your soul wants to live in it”. Especially for you, the Acolad Community has brought together the best advice to help you look after your physical and mental health as a freelancer:
Physical health: stay fit as a freelancer
Be mindful that even though you might work online from different places, your work is essentially sedentary, and it’s even more important to be mindful of this since there is not yet any kind of occupational health available for freelancers. Here is some essential advice to be followed for a healthy freelancer lifestyle:
Ensure you have a balanced diet
Your motto should be: Anti-Stress! Don’t abuse bad sugars, but favour the following foods: legumes, oleaginous fruit, proteins, wholegrain cereals, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and vegetable oil rich in omega-3… Follow the food pyramid if you’re unsure. 🙂 Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Take the time to cook at home, even preparing food for the next day. Your body and brain will pay you back a hundredfold and you will be fuelled for your projects!
Get enough sleep (even more if you feel you need it!)
Don’t fall in to the trap of staying up all night to finish projects, even the most urgent ones! It’s obvious that a lack of sleep is fatal for your concentration, mood and memory. Sleep for a minimum of 7 to 9 hours per night, have naps during the day of 20 minutes maximum if you wish, and switch off your screens at least 1.5 hours before going to sleep at night.
Move and move some more
You sit at your desk all day, of course. However, even if you are working from home, you need to do at least 30 minutes of physical exercise per day, just like everyone else. Don’t worry, there’s no need to sign up for a gym membership. Discover the joys of fitness at home: yoga, Pilates, cardio machines… And why not play outside with your children or your dog, in the garden or at the park?
Think about flexibility and ergonomics (of the body)
Don’t forget to take regular breaks at least once an hour to stretch, don’t seize up in front of the screen. Above all, pay attention to your posture, otherwise musculoskeletal problems will become likely. To prevent this, invest in ergonomic office equipment: a mouse mat with a wrist support, an adjustable chair, a hammock foot rest…
Mental health and freelancing: avoid excess
Your physical and mental health are closely linked. Neglecting your mental health is a sure way to shoot yourself in the foot and resort to excess, which can lead to burn out. You now know how to take care of yourself physically, following our advice above. Here’s how to take care of your mental health:
Devise your own home working routine
Once again, just because you work from home, you cannot just take things as they come. Quite the opposite, the more rigorous your routine, the less risk you have of feeling overwhelmed. To be effective, you should work at your own pace. Sometimes, we force ourselves up at the crack of dawn to work more, but it is quality that counts, not quantity. It’s better to get up later and be refreshed after a good night’s sleep than to feel groggy all morning and waste precious time!
Better organisation using the Pomodoro technique
Have you heard of this technique? It gets its name from the tomato-shaped timer (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato). The idea is to programme intense periods of work of 25 minutes with 5 minutes break in between, that you extend to 15 minutes now and then. The brain really needs these pauses in order to function and focus, which is what the Pomodoro technique provides. 😉
Don’t isolate yourself
One of the greatest mistakes made by the majority of freelancers is to stop going out. However, a lack of physical (and even virtual) contact with other people has a diminishing effect and will gradually make you feel isolated. It is at this point that anxiety arises and can lead to other, more serious, conditions. So to avoid making yourself ill and feeling like you’re going mad, go out and see your friends and family, go to a museum, to the cinema, etc. Use coworking spaces to work with your freelance “colleagues”. But above all, don’t stay on your own.
Health questions for travelling freelancers, a how-to guide
For digital nomads not wanting to lose money due to health expenses, we’ve thought of you too.
In fact, travelling provides a great change of scenery and amazing emotional experiences. But an accident, even a small one, can easily happen. Dream travel can easily become a nightmare and give you real financial problems because hospital costs abroad or urgent repatriation fees can easily become astronomical, in the order of 15,000 euros, even more in the case of some destinations!
Under these circumstances, it is pointless overlooking health insurance, especially in an attempt to save money!
Another crucial point: you may be travelling in countries which have very different health systems. So, you must have health insurance that covers you wherever you travel. 😊 This is very timely, as there is now a great variety of international insurance policies for digital nomads, such as that from SafetyWing, World Nomads and ACS.
Do you have any health tips to share with the Acolad Community? Do you know of other health insurance cover for travelling freelancers? Join in our discussion group!