Today’s post is from Kasia Radzka, an online friend of mine and a former 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success student. As freelancers, it’s imperative that we take care of ourselves and stay healthy. Otherwise, what good are we to our clients, and more importantly to our family’s? Take it away Kasia!
You’ve sent off the latest article, cleaned house, crossed off your crazy ‘to-do’ list and then some, while brainstorming blog post ideas and feeling certain you’ve forgotten something. You’ve even managed to top up your retirement accounts, pay the bills, pick up the kids from playgroup, and say, ‘yes’ to the three birthday invites for the following weekend. You’re exhausted, but that’s no excuse, there is still so much to do.
As a starting freelancer, who’s still committed to a full-time job, being a mum, trying to self-publish my first novel and wanting to run a half-marathon later in the year, staying healthy is a priority. I’m being stretched in many directions and without feeling top-notch, keeping the fast paced lifestyle could end in disaster.
Here are three things that help me stay healthy – physically and mentally – as a freelance writer.
1. Use a Timer and Take Regular Breaks to Workout
Did you know that sitting is the new smoking? A study has found that sitting for prolong periods of time increases our risk of disease and early death. Freelancers are prone to spending long hours behind a desk. Taking regular breaks can make all the difference.
I use the Virtual Trainer application on my phone. I set it up to give me a quick 3-5 minute intense Tabata workout. Tabata is 20 seconds hard work, 10 seconds of rest. I find that five minutes is enough to clear my mind, get my blood pumping and be ready to tackle the next writing task.
Another option is to work standing up. Since I have to keep an eye on my curious one-year-old, I put him in his play area (our lounge room) stand behind the lounge chair, put my Macbook on top and write standing up. That way I see him, he sees me, I’m on my feet and the work still gets done. I take regular breaks to play with him on the floor, give him a cuddle or play peek-a-boo — gotta love being a mum! Yes, most of this article was written standing up.
2. Keep a Bowl of Fruit and Vegetables Nearby
What you put in your body is what you get out of it. It might be tempting to grab a biscuit or chocolate or go without, but you’re not doing your brain or body any favors. Before you start your work day, grab a few pieces of seasonal fruit and vegetables, cut them up and have them in a bowl on your desk.
Snack on them throughout the day and you’ll ensure you get all of your vitamins in. My favorites are cucumbers, carrots, capsicum and apples. For more flavor, I make my own hummus dip using chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
According to the CDC’s fruit and vegetable calculator, a 35-year-old female who commits to less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day, should consume 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. Sounds like a lot, but it can be easily achieved with that bowl on your desk.
3. Make a Date with Yourself to Write Somewhere New
Working at home (alone), can get boring and tiresome. Solitude can seriously enhance writer’s block and not usually in a positive way. Or maybe you have a large family who are always extra-demanding when you need to get some work done.
If I’m working at home – even if I’m in the home office with a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door – my husband will inevitably find a reason to call out. It could be just to show me what our son is doing, ask me where a toy is or just to have a chat without realizing that it’s distracting me from my work.
Sometimes getting out is the only option.
Cafes are a great writing space if you don’t mind outside noise. They are loud and bustling. People are chatting, squabbling, laughing and reading the news. Waiters and waitresses are serving patrons, clearing tables and taking orders. There’s a lot going on and sometimes that change of pace can give you a fresh perspective (and a boost of creativity!).
Try checking out the new cafes in your area or visit your favorite one. It doesn’t have to be a cafe though, a library or the local park will work just as well.
Staying healthy as a freelancer doesn’t have to be difficult.
Sure it can be a sedentary and sometimes lonely profession, but it doesn’t have to be. Stay active, get your 2-3 servings of fruit & vegetables every day, enjoy a change of scenery and you’ll be healthier and happier for it.
What do you do to remain healthy as a freelancer?
Kasia Radzka is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance and health and fitness. She’s a mum and wannabe athlete with a weakness for good coffee and great wine. Her first self-published novel, Lethal Disposal, will be out in May, 2015. Check out her website, Writerly Pursuits, to learn more.
Photo Credit: Svadilfari via Compfight cc