While freelancing for a living is a dream job for many, it comes with a unique set of hurdles that most people don’t consider initially. One of the biggest: making health a priority. It might seem like freelancing would make it easier to stay healthy, and with the right mindset it does, but many people need the structure of the steady schedule that accompanies a desk job to also stay consistent with their workouts and eating habits. It’s much easier to pencil in a workout when you know it has to be done at a certain time, or stay on track with your eating when you pack your lunch and take it to the office every day. Freelancing, on the other hand, often results in sporadic hours spent sitting in front of the computer, and it’s not out of the ordinary for freelancers to frequent coffee shops and cafes, eating and drinking their way through their work day. In order to maintain a consistent workout schedule and healthy eating habits while working your own hours, use these five tips:
- 1. Make exercise a priority every day. It’s a weird conundrum; when you’re freelancing you actually have more flexibility to hit the gym, but it’s harder to get motivated to go because you can wake up whenever you want and set your own hours. Instead of going to the gym “whenever you feel like it” – which usually results in a skipped session – schedule it into your day just like you would a meeting or a deadline. When it’s a regular part of your to-do list you’ll be much more likely to actually get it done, even if it’s just a quick run around the neighborhood or a workout DVD in your living room.
- 2. Stock your home with healthy foods. Having a regular 9-5 job makes it easy to pack a healthy lunch and nutritious snacks, and since you rarely leave the office during the day it’s not hard to stick to those snacks. Working from home as a freelancer gives you the freedom to run to the gas station when that candy bar craving hits, or order Chinese takeout when all you can think about are fried wontons. To combat this, keep healthy snacks readily available, even when you’re working from a coffee shop or cafe. Always have a single serving packet of nuts, fruit, or cheese sticks with you that way at the first sign of your stomach grumbling you can quiet it with a nutritious snack, before you give into that frappucino.
- 3. Take frequent breaks from the computer to get up and walk around. Sitting in front of the computer all day – whether you’re freelancing or not – is one of the worst things you can do for your body. Every hour get up and stretch and walk around to keep your muscles loose. When you are sitting at the computer be mindful of your posture and focus on sitting up straight. Both of these will help you stay more focused and feel better throughout the day.
- 4. Keep light exercise equipment handy. Have an exercise ball instead of a desk chair to help you strengthen your core muscles while sitting. Keep a jump rope by your desk so that you can sneak in a quick burst of cardio when you need to take a break. Store hand weights in your desk drawer and do bicep curls and tricep extensions while you’re on conference calls or when you’re in the middle of a brainstorming session. These little changes can make a huge difference.
- 5. Get out of the house and mingle with friends. A major pitfall of working from home and freelancing is that it becomes very easy to hole up in your house all day and neglect seeing your friends. This lack of social interaction is terrible for your mental health, which is just as important to maintain as your physical health is. Schedule weekend hiking trips with friends, or go to a yoga class one evening a week. Make it a requirement to get out of the house and see your friends 2-3 times a week.
Don’t let yourself fall victim to unhealthy habits when you start your career as a freelancer. Regularly schedule in your workouts, keep your house stocked with healthy foods, make it a point to move around, have gym equipment readily available, and get out of the house so that you ensure that you’re healthy both physically and mentally.