Raise your hand if you think that all freelance writers are vegging out on the couch all day, sipping coffee and writing away?
Yes, I envisioned a life in pj’s and couch lounging when I became a freelance writer. But, this proved to be completely wrong!
Not only did I develop RSI (repetitive hand injury) from improper typing on the couch, I was stationary for most of the day!
And I’m sure you are already aware of this looming fact…
Staying healthy as a freelance writer is not difficult or complicated.
For the sake of both your physical and mental health, keep reading!
But before I go any further and dive into the tactics on how to stay fit and healthy while working as a freelance writer, I want to highlight something…
Make A Plan and Stick To It!
I could type until my fingers fall off about all of the things you can do to stay physically and mentally healthy as a freelance writer, but unless you make a plan, it would all be in vain.
So after you read through this post, grab your favorite notebook and create a plan that you know you can stick to!
If you want you can make this a New Year plan too (which I probably will since I recently moved and feel that the New Year will be a new chapter in my life!).
Ok, now onto the actionable tactics on staying healthy as a freelance writer…
Let’s Get Physical!
We all know that we should exercise more and eat better. But what specifically can you do as a freelance writer to stay fit, healthy, and physically active?
1. Minimize Sitting, Both While Working and During your Free Time
There are several ways to minimize sitting while working as a freelance writer.
Scroll down to the end to see all of the recommended products that can help you to achieve pique physical and mental health while working from home.
I know I am guilty of this once in a while. I get so into the writing grove that I don’t realize that I haven’t moved for three hours!
One of the ways to avoid this is to use the Pomodoro technique.
This is where you work on one specific thing for 25 minutes and then take a quick 5-minute break. You can turn on the Tomato Timer to get started.
When your 25-minutes are up, get up and move around for a bit. Do some jumping jacks, push-ups, have a dance party.
The whole “don’t sit all day” thing applies to your free time as well. While this can’t always be avoided (like while driving the kids around all day), do your best to stay off your butt in your free time and move around!
2. Minimize Typing to Avoid Carpal Tunnel
One way to avoid Carpal Tunnel is by typing less.
Typing and freelance writing go hand in hand, right?
So how the heck are you supposed to minimize typing when you have deadlines to meet?
This goes back to setting a schedule and using the Pomodoro technique. That is one way to avoid sitting and typing ALL DAY!
The other is that you can get dictation software. This can help to minimize your time spent typing as well as give you the opportunity to stand and move around more.
3. Avoid Slouching and Sit Properly
This is where being self-aware really comes in handy (and a great chair, but we’ll get to that later).
Sit with your head and spine aligned, shoulders back, butt back in your chair, knees at a 90-degree angle, and both feet flat on the floor.
So ahead and try, I’ll wait.
While this might seem awkward at first, this is truly the proper way to sit in a chair and important self-care technique.
4. Give Your Eyes a Break
Are you blinking? Are your eyes continually glued to your screen? Are you wearing contact or glasses?
Every 20 minutes (or 25 if you are using the Tomato Timer), look at an object 20-feet away for 20 seconds.
And don’t forget about those stylish blue-light blocking glasses, they work wonders!
5. Get Up and Stretch After Sitting
This can be done either at the end of your work day or in quick bursts in between your work sessions.
Whether you do a full yoga session after you’ve met your deadlines or are “deskercising,” stretching helps to get the blood flowing, keep you awake, and use the muscles that you have been sitting on all day.
6. Get Outside and Enjoy the Fresh Air
Even if it is a quick 5-minute jog around your backyard, getting outside gives you that extra boost of energy and vitamin D.
Getting outside gives your eyes a break from the screen and changes up your environment, which is great for battling writers’ blocks and boosting creativity.
With my new move, I want to see if I can incorporate more outside time (even though it’s getting colder) to help get more exercise and mental clarity.
While it might feel like you don’t have a ton of time to hit the gym, there are plenty of ways to squeeze in exercise into your daily routine.
In addition to some really cool work out equipment you could add to your home office, there are plenty of things that you can do sitting directly at your desk.
8. Hydrate and Eat Well
Just as with taking breaks, make sure that you are setting a schedule for yourself when it comes to meals and snacks so you aren’t just mindlessly grazing all day long.
This is a great healthy habit to keep freelance writers slim.
When it comes to hydration, this is more than just downing a pot of coffee.
Be sure that you are getting enough water every day. Buy a water bottle that you know you are going to use and fill it up on the regular!
9. Set Your Hours
Many freelance writers start out freelance writing as a way to work less, not more!
While getting your time management skills on track might be difficult at first, setting your working hours and sticking to them will benefit you both mentally and physically.
10. Separate Your Space
Depending on the type of environment you are working in, it is best to separate your space.
This could mean moving your desk out of your bedroom or renting a dedicated office.
Keeping your work space separate from your personal space is a great way to unwind and turn off your brain.
Even if you live in a very small area and can’t physically separate your work and personal space, you still have options.
Ensure that your work things (computer, papers, etc.) all stay in one spot on your desk and don’t flood over into the rest of your living space.
In our new house, there is a small room and that will be the office either for both of us or just for me. Upstairs is a little drying so I will have to see how I can work in a dry area or put in a humidifier to be more comfortable.
It’s More Mental
Just as if you were working at a regular 9-5, your mental health can suffer as a result of freelance writing and working from home.
Here are 6 tips for freelance writers to stay healthy and happy when working from home.
11. Connect with Other People
Working from home can be lonely. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others through Facebook groups, local meetups, and other means.
Just because you work by yourself doesn’t mean that you have to be isolated.
In my Write Your Way to Your First $1k course, I have a private Facebook group for students. It’s a lively group with lots of chatter and support!
Connect with others and talk about your work, vent about less than ideal clients, or just grab a glass of wine over a Zoom call.
Make it a point to connect with others you enjoy talking to and that support your journey on a regular basis, even if it is not in person.
I do have an IRL friend, Lorraine from Wording Well and we typically meet up a few times a year, but with COVID-19, that hasn’t happend at all this year!
12. Yoga and Meditation
Engaging in yoga and meditation practice has proven scientific benefits for both physical and mental health.
It can lead to benefits such as:
- Encouraged relaxation
- Increasing physical strength and flexibility
- Lowering blood pressure
- Toner muscles
- Alleviation of back pain
- Boost in heart and mental health
- Better moods
- Improved physical functioning
- Increased levels of energy
13. Change Up the Scenery
Even if you have a super cute office, it can be mentally draining to sit and look at the same things every day.
Change up your normal scenery by exploring a different coffee shop, going to the library, or checking out a new co-working space.
14. Create a Self-Care Checklist
Having a self-care checklist helps you to feel physically and mentally better at the end of a stressful day, keeps you on track with your mental health, and makes sure that you aren’t letting yourself go.
Your self-care checklist is entirely personal to you.
It can include things like, do a face mask, watch an episode of your favorite show, take a bubble bath, go for a walk with your bestie, get in an extra workout session, try out a new recipe, or dive into that book you’ve been meaning to read.
15. Stay Motivated
It can be really difficult to stay motivated when you are working for yourself. It can be emotionally draining trying to be motivated all the time, especially when things aren’t going your way.
Be sure that you focus on your small wins and always think about the positive aspects of your work. Sticking to your self-care and workout routines will certainly help as well.
16. Take a Mental Break
Just as with the physical aspect, your mind needs a break too. Watch some silly cat videos, meditate, go for a walk and talk to yourself. Being able to take a break mentally will help to keep you on track when you do get back to work.
If you can’t seem to get your mind off of things, try doing a brain dump where you either write or record all the things and worries that are cluttering up your mind. It’s a great way to hit the reset button and start fresh.
Get The Right Gear
I wanted to use this section to share with you some really amazing resources that I have discovered over my years of freelancing. These are great ways to stay fit and healthy while working as a freelancer.
A Tomato Timer is a page online with a timer. It’s a countdown timer for 25 minutes. When it stops, it’s time for you to get up and move around.
Diction software is a great tool to have as a freelance writer. I use it when I get bouts of RSI or when it hurts to type.
Ergonomic Office Chair
If you need the support, an ergonomic chair is a good option. While I don’t have one, I might get one next year.
Here are seven other gadgets you might need to staying healthy when you work from home.
- Blue light blocking glasses
- Desk bike
- Desk treadmill
- Wurf board
- Gallon water bottle
- Light therapy lamp
- Music for writing
No matter how you set up your office or work space, be sure that it is going to work for you and your freelancing goals.
Make it a happy place but also be sure to not let your work take over your life and keep your physical and mental health in check.
Over to you – how to you stay healthy when you work from home?