If you are a freelancer or other desk-bound solopreneur, you probably don’t have healthy activities baked into your schedule. Jobs like this can be the second whammy in the double-whammy that often strikes in our 20’s and 30’s: getting older and sedentary jobs. This combo is unavoidable for many, and the effects on our health and weight can be compounded when we are frequently alone.
Humans are built for society. Thomas Jefferson said that, and he wasn’t wrong. There’s something about the social stimulation that accompanies a peopled workplace that’s good for the health. Sometimes it’s as simple as the social motivation to shower and dress well that does the trick. This social driving force can be absent from the lives of freelancers, as any keyboard cowboy contractor who’s done a day’s work in their underwear will tell you.
So how can a freelancer who works from a computer stay healthy? Well, it requires a combination of several factors and practices. Let’s take a look at the most important ones.
- Find Time to Exercise (Outside of the House). It’s easy for people who work from home to live all of life within four walls. As this can exacerbate the social problem, make sure to find time to exercise outside the home. Get a gym membership and go 2-3 times a week, no matter what. Get a dog and take it for long walks during the prettiest part of the day. If you’re seated for many hours a day, learn about workout regimens that target the back and heart, especially, though generalized workouts are never a bad idea. Back exercises will preserve and improve posture, and cardiovascular exercise can prevent gradual damage to the heart that can result from sedentary living.
- Learn to Cook Delicious Food. Freelancers can typically make their own schedules, and therefore have time to make nice lunches and dinners. Take advantage of this time. Cook meals that taste great and fulfill all of your nutritional needs. Cooking is a great skill to have which can help build friendships, so this is a great thing to learn for anyone.
- Work Diligently. If you don’t have set hours, and only have to finish certain amounts of work before the end of the day, work diligently. Don’t let 4 hours of work drag out over 8 hours. Your day can be very useful if you use all of the hours, but the freelancer’s life can get pretty bland if not. Keep a schedule, set timers, and don’t let work take up all of the hours of your precious day.
- Invest in Friendships and Meet New People. There are countless intangible health benefits to having friends. As the years go by, it can be difficult to meet new people, unless you make it a priority to do so. Take time to volunteer, take classes, play sports, go dancing, see concerts, date. Having a vibrant social life is very important for one’s sense of wellbeing and for the health of the body as well; these are more intertwined than we’d often like to believe.
- Change Gigs Frequently. If you work for several different companies, look for new work frequently. If for nothing else, new jobs will keep your days fresh and interesting, and each new job is a new opportunity to try to make a little bit more money.
Mental stimulation, exercise, nutrition, and social well-being are all necessary for freelancers to stay healthy and fit. It’s challenging for anyone (even non-freelancers) to hit all of these marks, but with practice they will become routine. Keep it up, and your life will improve in measurable ways.