7 Wellness Practices for Freelancers

Welcome back! It’s been a while.

Today, I want to expand upon an Instagram post I shared recently about dealing with hectic times. 

As a freelancer, things can get really busy. Although workloads tend to fluctuate, busy seasons can hit you hard. And in order to counteract the stress of especially frantic times, here are some of my favourite wellness tips for freelancers:

1. Use a daily to-do list that includes a spot for gratitude journalling.

This is something I’ve only picked up recently, but adding gratitude journalling into my daily routine has been really helpful. At first, I tried to use a separate notebook just for gratitude journalling, but I ended up slacking on it.

Instead, since I’m someone who loves keeping a paper to-do list, I purchased a notepad that includes a spot to write down one thing I’m grateful for every day. With this new set-up, I never miss a day!

I should also note that I’m not really someone who enjoys positive thinking exercises like affirmations, so I’m not particularly into the idea of a gratitude journal. I tend to see the glass as half-empty, so it feels unnatural to write out things I’m thankful for. 

And that’s precisely why it’s important to do — it helps me challenge my negative thoughts and deliberately seek out things to appreciate in my everyday life. 

Coupling your daily task management with the wellness practice of gratitude journal can help you multi-task: you can get your day planned while taking a moment to work on your mental well-being.

NOTE: The one I’m using at the moment is this one from Bliss Collections, but you can always look around for something else that catches your eye. (Not sponsored!)

2. Get out to exercise — even if it’s only for a very short time.

I know, I know — at this point in the pandemic, we’ve all heard enough about the benefits of getting outside for a walk. But it’s over-used for a reason.

The key for me is to set the bar extremely low. Even if I only walk for four or five minutes — even if it’s a laughably small distance — I still try to get out for a walk every day. 

The fresh air, movement, and act of leaving my home office always help me feel a bit more grounded. If I’m up for a longer walk, that’s great too, but setting low expectations helps the task from feeling stressful or overwhelming.

3. Try mindfulness.

I could go on and on just about the importance of mindfulness, but I won’t bore you with all the details. For me, as a freelancer, and just as a human being, mindfulness makes a huge difference in my quality of life.

I like to use recorded meditation tracks (no more than a few minutes) to introduce a little bit of mindfulness to my day, even if it’s a particularly busy one. Start small. Don’t expect yourself to sit in silence for 45 minutes every day (although that’s great if you enjoy it!). Even thirty seconds of deep breathing can pay dividends throughout the rest of your day.

My favourite mindfulness resources are:

Check out even just one of these resources to see what looks interesting to you.

4. Deliberately seek out enjoyable content in between work sessions.

As much as I love listening to podcasts on things like political journalism, they’re not what I turn to during hectic times. If I have a jam-packed day of work with little time to catch my breath, I try to actively seek out fun content to enjoy in between work sessions.

Whether that means watching a YouTube beauty tutorial while eating lunch or listening to a Bachelor recap podcast when I have a few minutes to spare, I make a deliberate effort to pick the lighter content. Having something fun and light helps me decompress in between stressful tasks, and can also act as a nice reward at the end of a long day.

5. Prep things the night before.

I’m definitively not a morning person, so prepping things the night before is always a good call. It takes a bit of forethought, but I’m never sorry when the next morning comes around. 

My favourite way to do so? Meal prep breakfast. And I’m not talking about anything intense. I just set up a french press with cold-brew coffee to steep in my fridge, and mix some oats with milk to prep some overnight oats. In total, it takes no more than five or ten minutes to get everything ready, and the payoff is huge.

Other ideas include: setting out your clothes for the next day, filling your purse/bag with everything you’ll need the next morning (if you’re running to a meeting or something like that), or simply clearing some dishes from the kitchen so that you have a clean house to wake up to.

6. Give yourself plenty of wiggle room for projects.

This is something I learned the hard way, but it is truly an act of self-care to schedule your projects with plenty of wiggle room. Organize your time as if you expect for delays to happen. Don’t wait until the night before or the day of to finish a freelancing project for a client.

Life always happens — we can’t predict when our computer will suddenly break or a family emergency will come up. Give yourself at least a day or two of extra time so that, if something prevents you from working on your project, you can shuffle around things in your schedule and adjust accordingly.

Getting your projects in on time is one of the most important ways to keep your clients happy. They need to be able to depend on you to deliver high-quality writing. 

Not to mention that getting your work done on a reasonable timeline will help you avoid the unnecessary stress of “racing against the clock.” Save yourself and your clients the trouble.

7. Don’t be afraid to take a day off.

Perhaps most importantly, as a freelancer, you need to give yourself days off. Taking the time to rest will help your productivity in the long run. We all need time to relax and take time away from our desks.

Make a conscious plan of when you’ll be taking a day or two off every week. And if you end up having a particularly rough day where you don’t feel up to working on a project, don’t hesitate to take a day off. (That’s why we scheduled in plenty of wiggle room in the last step!)

Forcing yourself to pummel through and work even if you’re not feeling up to it may seem admirable, but it’s not something to aspire to. Recognize when you need to take a day to yourself, and give yourself permission to be human. We’re not meant to be constantly working.

Conclusion

What about you: What are your favourite wellness practices as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments. 

And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of all the latest Writing Advice blog posts.

Happy writing!

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