Healthcare Tips for Freelancers
Posted: 05/10/2021 | Author: Jim Lochner for Creatives On Call | Tags: Thought Leadership
There are 57 million freelancers in the US. As your own boss, you get to set your own hours and work all day with your favorite furry buddy by your side. Once upon a time, you were the envy of all your friends. Then the pandemic hit and millions of office workers suddenly were faced with some of the tougher aspects of working from home like isolation, irregular working hours, and the challenge of work-life balance when they’re both in the same space. Luckily, they were spared further freelance joys like sporadic work, cash flow issues, and the pressure of running your own business.
Freelancing isn’t easy, and these challenges can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Over 60% of freelancers say stress, anxiety, or poor mental health hurts their ability to work. But there are ways to mitigate the health challenges and set you up for freelance success.
As a freelancer, gone are the days of partially subsidized (or, if you’re lucky, fully paid) health insurance. You’re now responsible for that expense. And while you can take a sick or “mental health” day anytime you want (since you’re the boss), you’re not collecting income if you’re not working. As a “business of one,” you have to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated throughout the day and opt for healthier snack choices. Take time for yourself with non-work-related hobbies and activities and don’t underestimate the benefits of sleep.
INCORPORATE MOVEMENT INTO YOUR DAY
55% of freelancers say they suffer from depression, compared to 29% for office workers. And it’s no surprise that exercise can help alleviate those feelings. Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for 3–5 days a week may significantly improve depression or anxiety symptoms, but even 10–15 minutes at a time can make a difference. Even a simple walk around the neighborhood (with or without your favorite doggo) can get you out of your work- (and head-) space and brighten your mood. If you’ve got a standing desk, set a Pomodoro timer to regularly get out of your chair, then work your calves and feet muscles on an anti-fatigue mat or a balance board. Whatever you do, just move!
INVEST IN PROPER WFH GEAR
As a freelancer who runs their own business, you need a dedicated workspace. Your couch and living room chair may be comfy, but they can wreak havoc on your neck and spine while working. Musculoskeletal disorders account for 33% of all injuries and work illnesses, so invest in an ergonomic chair and a home office desk to improve your posture and maintain your back and spine health.
DRESS FOR (FREELANCE) SUCCESS
One of the best perks of freelancing is ditching tiresome office wear. You’re not visually dressing to impress (except perhaps on a Zoom call), so get comfy! What you wear affects your mood and productivity, so you do you. But while working in your pajamas or sweats may sound ideal, it further blurs the line between work and home. Also, 59% of freelancers said working in their pj’s contributed to worse mental health than working with younger children. (Oof!) If you still want to go the full jacket-and-tie route (or your gender equivalent), go for it. You’ll be in Pulitzer Prize-winning company.
STICK TO A ROUTINE
Flexibility is one of the biggest perks of freelancing. You control how your hours are managed, and you’re (usually) not bound to the same 9-to-5 work schedule that your office counterparts are. But organizing your workday is key. Set regular work hours for yourself and stick to them. Only do work within your dedicated workspace and leave the work behind when you’re done for the day. Don’t power through weekends and holidays and ignore vacations. Chances are the 9-to-5’ers aren’t doing it. Neither should you.
BUILD UP A SUPPORT SYSTEM
64% of freelancers say they feel lonely, compared to 30% for office workers. In the office, you can lean on (and commiserate with) your coworkers. Freelancers lack this built-in support system, so it’s important to create one. Friends, family, a therapist, other freelancers, and in-person or online communities are all options. Connect regularly through phone calls, FaceTime, networking events, coffee, or instant messenger. And if you’re ready (and vaccinated) to meet up with people face-to-face again, nothing beats in-person.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
If you need professional advice, reach out to a counselor, therapist, life coach, or personal trainer. Seeking this kind of help can be difficult, but a professional may be the perfect person to help you work through any issues and give your health the boost it needs.
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The rollout from the pandemic will present new challenges and opportunities for freelancers. Make your physical and mental health a priority so you’ll be in the best shape to deal with any difficulties and take advantage of new possibilities.
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