Why did you become a freelancer (or want to become one)? For most people, freelancing is the perfect getaway from the 9-5 job they often feel miserable at, a chance to be more independent and have more time for themselves and their friends and family. Working at home should give enough time to exercise, go for a run or just a walk and stay a physically healthy freelancer. Instead however, most freelancers simply sit at their desks for hours, often overnight, trying to finish that assignment before deadline. The result is one mentally and physically exhausted freelancer who is probably wondering by now if he made the right choice when he started freelancing in the first place.
For all the advantages of freelancing, if you don’t keep an eye on your physical health, you won’t be able to fully enjoy this profession (who can enjoy anything when they have chronic back pain, pain in the neck, wrists or are not getting enough sleep?). With that in mind, here are 6 things you must do to be a physically healthy freelancer
1. Sit Properly While Working on Your Laptop
If you have to spend 8 hours per day sitting, at least don’t punish your body, especially your lower back, by sitting the wrong way. Make sure your feet are firmly on the floor, your knees bent at the right angles and not cfirossed, sit with your back straight, don’t strain your neck forward and keep your elbows at an angle instead of stretching your arms to reach your keyboard when you type.
Of course, the key to sitting properly is a good chair, so make sure to invest in one where you can adjust the back and the seat to your liking.
2. Don’t Sit all the Time. Move Around
If it wasn’t enough that freelance work requires us to sit at our computer desks, between 20 and 35% of individuals also spend an extra 4 hours every day watching TV. Prolonged sitting increase the risk of high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity, low back pain, cardiovascular disease, slows your blood circulation, increase blood glucose to dangerous levels and increase risk of colon cancer. Yet, despite of these risk being well documented, adults spend only about 5% of their day in moderate to vigorous physical activity, according to this infographic from Mind Body Green.
Don’t forget to make short, 5-minute breaks every 25 minutes to get up and stretch, maybe do some quick squats or lunges to get your blood circulating again if you want to remain a physically healthy freelancer. Also, you can invest in a standing desk. It might take awhile to get used to it, but the benefits of this are amazing in the long run.
3. Drink Enough Water to Stay Hydrated
If you’re feeling fatigued, are unable to focus on what you’re doing or have headaches, you’re probably dehydrated. That’s not a good state for a freelancer. Be sure to drink enough water. Personally, I always keep a one liter water bottle on the desk near me so I can reach out and drink from it whenever I feel thirsty, without the need to have to get up and get one from the fridge.
You can also drink tea to get those antioxidants, instead of water, or you can make a refreshing lemonade. If you’re drinking energy drinks, a word of caution. Stay away from them. They may feel refreshing momentarily, but they can increase your anxiety, cause insomnia, type 2 diabetes, headaches, jitters, elevate your blood pressure, cause allergies, induce vomiting, even make you addicted to them, according to an article from Caffeine Informer.
4. Eat Properly to Stay a Physically Healthy Freelancer
Not only that you should remember to eat from time to time, but you also shouldn’t base your diet on snacks, sweets and fast foods. Your body needs proteins, vitamins, fats and carbs and you can only get these by eating a variety of different foods, including vegetables, fruit,, eggs, dairy, fish and meats from different animals.
In addition, as this article from Berkeley Wellness recommends, keep your sugar and refined grains intake to a minimum. White bread, pasta, snack food, candy, soda and other kinds of food with added sugar and refined grains not only have little to no dietary value but are also only “good” for gaining weight and calories you don’t really need. On the other hand, the same article also says that you don’t have to worry so much about cholesterol. So eat that eggs and bacon without feeling sorry.
5. Take a Walk, Run or Exercise
Don’t forget to take a bigger break from your work from time to time. How you use this time is up to you of course, but for instance you can go for a longer walk or a run. Personally, a good run always helps me clear my mind and rest my brain after writing for a while. Another thing you I recommend is to start exercising. Whether you do some push-ups, squats or burpees at your home, or lift some weights in a gym is up to you, but it is a good way to be a physically healthy freelancer.
The whole point is not only to take a break from work (you can do the same on the couch), but to make that break actually useful for your body health. Sitting for a prolonged period of time can slow down your blood flow and you want to keep those muscles active. Plus, exercise is also a good way to relieve stress if you’re dealing with some non-paying clients.
6. Get Enough Sleep Every Day
A physically healthy freelancer needs his sleep. Many freelancers fall into the trap of working well into the night in order to finish an assignment before deadline. By doing this they mess up their normal sleeping cycle and are never rested properly. When you are working tired your performance naturally drops, not to mention the impact this has on your health. Sleep deprivation can according to Harvard Medical School cause some chronic medical conditions, including hypertension, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Be sure to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Some people need less, some more, but in general this should be enough to refuel your body. If you have deadlines to meet, try scheduling your time. An app like Trello can help you stay productive and on top of those deadlines.
How do you stay physically active as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments below your secrets to being a physically healthy freelancer.