Why Freelancers Should Pay More Attention To Self-Care

Why Freelancers Should Pay More Attention To Self-Care

Freelancers and self-care.
You’re busy, you’re stressed and you have demanding and difficult clients. Still, you keep putting in many hours to meet deadlines, market to potential clients, respond to calls, emails, etc. No one really understands the life of a freelancer unless they live it. But you do live it. And it is easy to forget about your own needs while meeting those of your business. The end result will be burnout and lack of productivity. 
According to a recent survey from Epson, 48% of freelancers admitted to their “career” being a very lonely business. Additionally, 46% named freelancing isolating; 25% of those polled said they did experience periods of depression, as a result of the isolation they experience.

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There are other stressors involved in running a business (and let’s face it, that’s what freelancers are doing). One of the biggest stressors is finance.
Financial anxiety forces freelancers to compromise on their well-being Late payments (or lack thereof) are putting a major toll on mental and physical health of small business owners. This year’s study from Xero revealed that:

  • 28% of U.K. freelancers/solopreneurs experience cash flow issues.
  • 26% say they would have better physical health if cash flow was not a problem.
  • 21% state that, if financial worries were not present, they would spend more time in their leisure activities and enjoy life more. 

  • Letting those stressors loom larger in your life, translates to reduced productivity and enthusiasm for what you do. This, of course, leads to more isolation and increase financial woes. You have to get out of this downward cycle. And a huge part of getting out is self-care. 
    What self-care involves: So many things. And they can be divided into physical and mental, although they are intimately connected.

    1. Physical self care 
    What are you doing to ensure your physical well-being? After all, it relates directly to your mental well-being as research proves, and must therefore be a priority. Below are several quick tips to help you take care of your body: 
    Take time for physical breaks from your mental demands. Take walks, go to the gym, clean your house – anything physical that removes your brain from the tasks and worries at hand.
    Control your diet. There is research out there that points to the importance of diet in reducing stress. There are foods that produce more serotonin -  chemicals that promote mental calmness – as well as those that provide long-term feelings of well-being. And here’s a news flash – they are not found at fast-food restaurants. 
    Get the right amount of sleep. Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, has conducted a significant study on the effects of lack of sleep on our mental states. These are all summarized in her book, The Sleep Revolution. You would be well advised to read this, in order to understand the importance of sleep to both your physical and mental states.
    2. Mental self care
    There are a number of factors in mental self care, and you should consider those activities that will support this:
    Address the isolation. If you are experiencing anxiety and depression over isolation, then you have to make a concerted effort to balance the isolation with professional and social connections. Stay in touch with your former colleagues and your old friends. Get together with them on a regular basis.
    Be mindful of your physical appearance. When you feel good about yourself physically, your mental state improves. Thus, take care of your personal appearance – bathe regularly, wear nice clothes, even if you are going to be at home most of the day; go so far as browsing the resources on colognes for men or women to find a suitable scent for yourself. It has been scientifically proven that smelling different aromas can enhance how we feel. 
    Look at hobbies and non-related Interests. What are your passions other than your work? Are you into art, fitness, charity? Find an outlet for that interest and spend some of that “downtime” on those activities. You will find that you will experience far less burnout when you do return to your work.
    As a freelancer, you are in charge of your work and personal life. Finding the balance between these two is something a lot of us struggle with. Investing all your time on your business and leaving too little time and resources for yourself is unsustainable. So don’t feel guilty about pampering yourself once in awhile as you absolutely deserve it!

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