Why Every Freelancer Needs Self-Care (And How to Start)
You’ve leaped off the edge of the 9-5 and into the digital nomad or freelance lifestyle – or freedom lifestyle as...
You’ve leaped off the edge of the 9-5 and into the digital nomad or freelance lifestyle – or freedom lifestyle as I like to call it. You went from schedule to no schedule, from many bosses to you being the boss hot sauce. This jump might have been thrilling, but now you’re on the brink of exhaustion, fighting off the stresses and anxiety of the freelance world.
From working sporadic hours while listening to the news, or watching YouTube and researching for your next client, keeping up with your habits and your time can border on a traffic jam or Titanic level crash. Putting your health and body first can be a struggle when everything else seems important, to the detriment of your work performance. (Perhaps you’re still in the dreaming phase of becoming a freelancer, and want to overcome the career change fear, if this is the case I wrote about that here.)
How to Self-Care as a Freelancer
Freelancing can easily lead to overwhelm, anxiety, loss of sleep, and even burnout. No clients or overwhelmed from too many clients? Exhausted from trying to juggle all of the elements of your freelance job? The list is endless: cold calls, responding to leads, marketing activities, writing and sending out newsletters, social media scheduling, meetings, networking…
To enjoy the freelance lifestyle you need a schedule, priorities, ways to delegate, and tools and resources to help you navigate the trenches on the daily. Create daily and weekly goals, organize your tasks according to a schedule and use deadlines, both soft and hard ones and, most importantly, self-care all parts of your mind, body, and soul.
One of the main elements of freelancing is that you’re working in isolation. It can be difficult to maintain connection with people when you work from home, or a coffee shop. Try not to neglect your family and social life. Isolation, both for freelancers and entrepreneurs in general, is a huge and common challenge. It’s hard to nurture strong relationships when you’re either not in the same location as other people (perhaps after work) or in a slump working from home (can’t seem to get out of those PJs huh?).
Work is work, and as freelancers it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things we have to do or underwhelmed by how slow the process is to get things off the ground. Make sure you prioritize your social support (schedule it if you need to). Work will always be there, but friends and family are important, both during good times and the more challenging ones. Don’t neglect the people around you. Call, text, send an email, check in with your people regularly!
Apart from a social life try to include some form of mind work into your days: meditate, breathe, reflect, journal. And remember, always make your bed.
Nutrition and physical activity are essential for freelancers. From maintaining a balanced diet, to moods, preventing chronic disease, and boosting positive emotions. You can’t work your best if your body can’t work its best. Often, we don’t take self-care seriously until we experience a serious health setback. Make sure you’re planning your meals and not breaking the bank buying fast food meals. This does twice the damage – processed meals and spending too much money. Why not try a meal planning app like Mealtime, Food planner, or Paprika? Be sure to supplement and balance with lots of natural foods and water, and try to minimize the amount of sugar. Sugar cravings can happen, and it’s a habitual trigger from anxiety, or even from skipping meals or low blood sugar.
Slow down, take your breaks, go for walks, get off the bus one stop earlier, or sneak in YouTube videos on yoga, or simple at-home exercises (as safely as possible!). The other important thing about self-care is having a good healthcare plan.
Be proactive and maintain your breaks for the gym, walk outside, eat nutritious food, maintain a healthy diet and get sleep. Don’t procrastinate all day, only to stay up all night to get a gig done. Sleep is one of the most vital things to ensure well-being and mental focus.
Whether you’re a freelancer or a digital nomad, self-care is about a nourishing type of discipline (and not the punishing kind). The mind and body like routine and habit, while the soul requires more depth. All it takes is one step, and one plan to get going. Keep distractions at bay. Create a soulful work environment that helps you feel good AND succeed. Know yourself and spend time to reflect about where you are and if you’re heading in the direction you want. You can’t know until you sit quietly and listen to that inner knowing.
Build self-awareness through stillness. This will help you to know what you tend to do, what your triggers are and how you react to situations. Becoming intimate with yourself like that will help you grow, and reach new heights.
In the end, be realistic and make sure you’re creating healthy boundaries in this new work environment, and say no.
At first it might feel very tempting to say yes to any and all clients (and that’s okay when you have bills to pay) but do not bend your freelancing values just to accommodate everybody else first, including leads and clients. This might take a toll on your health.
Be proactive about your freelance self-care. Whether it’s a 10-minute meditation in the morning or turning off all your electronics after 7 pm and taking a bath.
Freelance self-care always starts with your well-being and the choices you make. Make sure to develop the self-trust necessary for stepping into your own power. In the end, if you’re not feeling well it’s going to be difficult for you to maintain that freelance lifestyle you dreamed of – and that you now finally have.
Hi, I’m Murielle. I created the online course Soulful Productivity™, a 6-week program to redefine productivity and help you get from overwhelm to flow, and I have a private coaching practice where I help ambitious, multi-passionate creatives and entrepreneurs start, grow & scale businesses, and create their freedom lifestyle. PS: I love Instagram. Let’s connect!