Self-employment has become a much more popular way of working for a lot of people. The COVID pandemic has also led to many more companies introducing remote and hybrid working as standard. There are huge potential benefits to this way of working, including creating a much healthier work-life balance for yourself.
Yet many freelancers are finding that the opposite is true, and their health and wellbeing take a backseat as they build their freelance careers.
So what are the health implications for freelancers and what can you do to keep yourself happy and healthy.
Here are our top tips to get yourself into a great routine.
Get the right insurance
If you don’t live in a country with free health care, it can be tempting to try and save money by skipping health insurance and hoping that you won’t fall ill. However, you need this safety net should you become ill or injured and unable to work. Many policies will also cover things like mental health support and alcohol rehab as part of their terms.
Another good insurance policy to have is to have in place is income protection. This provides you with a percentage of your monthly income should you be too ill to work. You might wonder how this affects your health. If you do become ill and don’t have any income protection in place, you may keep working when you shouldn’t and prolong your illness or even make it worse.
Keep regular working hours
One of the great things about being your own boss is deciding when you’ll work. This can be especially helpful if you have family or other commitments, or something crops up unexpectedly. But many established freelancers recommend setting a schedule and sticking to it as much as possible. Otherwise, you will find yourself working longer and longer hours and never being able to truly switch off.
Set boundaries with clients and suppliers
The technology that allows us to work remotely, also means that we rarely switch off completely. Establish your working hours communicate these to your clients and protect your personal time as much as you can.
If clients insist on trying to contact you outside of these times, stand your ground. Turn on your out-of-office if necessary and get yourself a separate phone number for your business calls. You can then leave it switched off or send all calls to voicemail after a certain time.
Schedule exercise into your week
If your work involves working at a computer for long periods, then you’re at risk of a lot of different health issues. Initially, there are the aches and pains which come with sitting for long periods. Your muscles become tight and this can lead to backache, neck ache, and cramps. If this continues for a long time, then a sedentary lifestyle can result in weight gain and higher risks of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and a host of other conditions.
Schedule exercise as you would an appointment with a client. Whether this is going out for a run, the gym, or doing a fitness video in from of your TV, find what works for you. Some people prefer to get out of the house to exercise, especially if they work from home, but if time is very tight then setting up an area in your home might be a good alternative for you.
In addition to keeping you physically healthy, regular exercise can help you sleep and give you a mental boost too.
Adopt a healthy diet
When you work from home, you’re never too far from your fridge, which can be a bad thing if it’s full of unhealthy snacks. A balanced diet is vital for good health so make your life easier by keeping tasty and nutritious food around and preparing your meals in advance. This way you’re more likely to avoid snacking or ordering takeout.
Designate a workspace
While it’s nice to have the option of sitting on the sofa on your laptop to do your work, it can sometimes be helpful to have a clear distinction between your workspace and personal space. Whether you have a dedicated room or a corner of a kitchen table, you can increase your productivity and learn to switch off after you’re done for the day.
Set your workspace up correctly
A poorly designed work area can cause you a lot of problems with posture, neck ache, and eye strain. Learn how to set up your workspace in a way that works for you. This includes where to position your computer, the correct angle for your wrists as you type, and the height and lumbar support of your chair.
It’s worth paying a little extra money for a good ergonomic chair as it can prevent you from losing precious working hours to backache in the future.
Work smarter, not harder
Running your own business means that you have a lot of different responsibilities alongside your core activities. Find ways to delegate or automate as much as you can.
Being self-employed can be an empowering experience, but it can also feel quite isolated at times. Especially if you are in a remote role with little face-to-face contact with people.
A way to prevent this feeling is to network with other freelancers. Being around others who are dealing with a lot of the same issues as you are can be very liberating and is less stressful than networking for new business. Check what opportunities there are in your local area. If there is no face-to-face events, then you will be able to find a virtual one.
Building connections with people is great for your confidence and mental health.
There are many advantages to the freelance lifestyle, but it’s still very easy to fall into bad habits that can have lasting consequences for your health. With some careful planning and some self-discipline, then you can ensure that you keep yourself mentally and physically healthy throughout your career.