I was sitting this morning with my tea, wondering what I was going to write about today. Today, I am tired, hormonal (perimenopause people!), and just not feeling like doing much of anything — yet I have a VERY full schedule today.
It was during my morning meditation that I realized perhaps today was a good day to talk about self-care.
Of course, we all need self-care. Every single person in the world, men and women, no matter who they are or what they do, needs to take the time to care for themselves. We all need to do things that help us unwind, relax, and rejuvenate. But I think women in freelancing need to take this particularly seriously. Why?
First, because women are notorious for caring for everyone around them and neglecting themselves. An Ipsos survey showed that while 80% of women feel self-care is important, only one-third of them take 30 minutes or less in a day to do so. In contrast, 76% of women spend as much as 10 hours a day and 19% spend more than 10 hours a day caring for others.
That’s 95% of women spending most of their waking hours caring for others!
Second, because freelancers can easily overwork themselves, despite the fact that they have so much freedom in terms of their schedule. Even though the Freelancing in America 2016 report shows freelancer worked an average of 36 hours a week (2 hours more than the average worked by employed workers), a Freelancermap survey from 2018 showed that over 40% of freelancers work between 40 and 50 hours per week and nearly 20% work between 50 and 60 hours per week.
That’s a LOT of hours, and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it on more than one occasion.
And when you put these two things together…
You have a potent combination that can lead to burnout!
So, it’s time to step up your freelance self-care game, which is something I have really been trying to focus on lately. What follows are five things I am doing to care for myself. You may have your own secret self-care weapons or you may be inspired by these. Whichever is the case, your self-care strategies won’t work it you don’t actually do them. So, as you read through these, think about how you can truly implement them in your life:
It doesn’t matter what form your exercise takes, like Nike says, just do it. Exercise makes your body healthy and your brain happy. And it feels good. I have started running again, which is followed by a session of planks, pushups, and stretching — good for a body that sits in front of a computer all day.
Honestly, I just thought about how even a half an hour to an hour a day is really not a lot of time out of my schedule to do something good for myself. Yet, the benefits are amazing. Exercise:
- Reduces the risk of disease
- Helps with weight loss
- Gives you more energy
- Improves your mood
- Improves brain function
- Helps you sleep better
I try to run three days per week, followed by a workout/stretching session, and try to walk the other days. It’s not always easy, but it ALWAYS feels good and I know it makes me feel better on all counts.
So, decide what exercise is right for you and just do it!
I have been meditating every morning now for about 3 weeks. I started at 5 minutes and now I’m up to 11 minutes. I do it in the morning, after my first cup of tea — and after my kids have gone to school. I usually try to visualize myself surrounding by the universal web of knowledge that surrounds all of us and open myself to it.
Sometimes, I visualize I am on a beach, sometimes in my living room, but always surrounded by love, light, and open to what the universe is offering me, the future it has for me. I also often repeat affirmations during meditation and I can’t begin to tell you how this has brought opportunities into my life.
Meditation offers some incredible benefits, not just mental, but also physical. They include:
- Reduced cortisol levels and lower stress
- Increased concentration and focus
- Increased gray matter in the brain, resulting in better memory and learning and increase self-awareness and compassion — this helps prevent memory loss as we age
- Reduced anxiety and depression
So, set aside some time each day to meditate. Start with 1 or 2 minutes if you need to and work your way to longer sessions. Just do it. You will notice the difference.
3. Be in the Moment
I have become quite good at being in the moment. If i’m working, I am there, focused on the work I am doing at the moment — not focused on the hundred other things I need to do. If I’m with my kids, I’m with them, no matter how much work is waiting for me in my office.
Being where I am and shutting out everything else helps me get the most out of the time I am spending on any area of my life. This past Thursday, I spent most of the day with my oldest daughter. Yesterday, I did a day trip to Toronto with my youngest daughter. I enjoyed myself and had a break from the office.
And I have SO MUCH WORK ahead of me in the coming days, I could have easily been fretting over it. But I didn’t. This is so important.
Learn to be in the moment and get the most out of it. When you are working, work hard. When you are playing, play hard. You will be amazed at how easy this can be and how beneficial it truly is.
4. Non-Screen Time
Sometimes, I find myself just unable to concentrate well. I am not very focused and I’m not getting a lot done. I can’t use my time effectively. Whether I am tired, hormonal, or just overworked, I need to step away. Even when my work schedule is heavy, I need to step away. Perhaps take the rest of the day off and get back at it early the next morning, when I know I will be much more efficient.
After all, if work isn’t efficient, it makes more sense to use that time to refresh and rejuvenate!
There are also days when I need to not touch my computer at all. As long as nothing is pressing, some days off are spent completely disengaged from technology. Even when I think I’m going to work on a non-client project, sometimes I just can’t do it. I might use this time to go hiking and be in nature, read, binge some shows, or, more often than not, just sit and relax and let my mind wander.
Honestly, unless you have a harsh deadline looming, if you need to walk away for a few hours or an entire day or two, just do it! This isn’t about taking a vacation, although that is also important. This is stepping away during day-to-day life and letting yourself just be.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is critical to our overall health and our ability to concentrate and focus. I don’t do well on less than 8 hours of sleep and I don’t try to. Humans MUST have 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Without this much sleep, we are at a higher risk of overweight and obesity and diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes
Plus, our concentration and memory suffer, which isn’t going to help us when we are working. So, make sure you get enough sleep!
Obviously, there are plenty of other methods of self-care out there. This is just what works for me. Whether you do any of these or have others, please share with us in the comments section below! We can help inspire each other to engage in more self-care.
And stay tuned for a guest post coming on Wednesday about freelancing and traveling!