Life as a freelancer is feast or famine. A big contract is easier to manage, but the smaller ones pay the bills while hustling for the next big one. It’s a fine line to balance, but how can you stay healthy when the workload doesn’t stop?
This happened during my March. I took a big project and a small client exploded to become a stress-filled medium-sized client. I begged, borrowed and postponed as much as possible, but it triggered a fibromyalgia flare-up* so I was in pain and more exhausted. Then as it ended I caught a cold. Usually, my immune system is strong enough, but I was so worn down from working waking to sleeping seven days a week for a month that I was susceptible. I’ll save you the nasty details, but I can promise you it wasn’t fun.
What I Could Do to Stay Healthy
I worked through as much as I knew how to do, but I’m sure there are things I could have done differently. While I’m learning to listen to my body, I’m not good at it yet. Especially when I have clients emailing asking when their site will be back up.
That’s why I need to turn to Eileen Lambert. By day Eileen is a tech project manager. In her other time, she’s the founder of Live Well Aware – a consultancy on mindfulness and meditation. She also teaches yoga and happens to be one people I know who’s best at self-care. I’ve changed a couple of Eileen’s links to affiliate links. If you buy those items it won’t got you more, but I receive a few cents to help cover the costs of the site.
Tips to Stay Healthy When It’s All Too Busy
So Eileen, what are your top five tips for staying healthy during months like March?
- Take 5 minutes to do one of the following:
- Meditate (here are some simple ones; check out these meditation apps)
- Color (check out this book series)
- Look at nature (outside window, a terrarium, aquarium, pictures)
- Listen to calming music (here are a few channels to check out)
- Take a deep breath and return to your previous activity
Change of scenery
- Get up from your desk, couch, bed
- Walk around the block
- Head to a coffee shop, grab a healthy snack
- Return refreshed
Rally the troops
- Enlist your support systems
- Make a phone or coffee/tea date with some of your trusted friends
- Share your needs, ask if they can offer a hand
- Offer to repay their kindness
- Make sure you’re consuming healthy meals and snacks
- Hydrate regularly. Try infusing your water.
- Limit caffeine, sugar, and processed foods and saturated fats
- Vitamin D, Multivitamins, Calcium/Magnesium blend, Omega 3s, B Complex (great for combatting stress)
- Natural Calm is a go to destress remedy
- Set a pre-bedtime routine
- Sip some chamomile or other favorite relaxing tea, power down electronics, dim lights, put on calm, instrumental music
- Do some gentle stretching (here’s a pre-bedtime restorative yoga sequence)
- Journal or write down any lingering thoughts that might keep you up at night
- Try the 4-7-8 breathing relaxation technique
- Slip on an eye mask and slip into a deep slumber
OK, and knowing how much I struggle to focus my mind and I get distracted thinking about what needs fixing when I should be meditating, what’s the one thing that’s easy to work into my life?
Now I have my homework, but hopefully, there’s no repeat performance. If there is, at least I’ll know what to do before it gets too much.
Note: I don’t usually talk about having fibromyalgia. It has taken two years since diagnosis to accept I have an incurable chronic illness. I’m actually fortunate I can manage it with cutting back to a 60 hour week instead of my usual “constantly-on”, giving up running, and learning to listen to my body. It’s generally a non-event except during crazy months like March was.