As a freelancer, you ARE your business. When you’re at your best, your enterprise can realize its full potential. But — if you crash and burn, your business will go up in flames with you. That’s why you MUST practice regular self-care to avoid wearing yourself down. Let’s dive into 7 self-care ideas to keep you — and your business — in tip-top shape.
1.) Schedule Downtime
Burnout happens when you never turn your business brain off. But I know flipping that switch is hard — maybe even painful. You’re so excited about what you’re building and your to-do list is 3 miles long. Walking away for even a moment feels like you’re wasting time, like you’re abandoning your mission. I struggle with this every dang day.
But — deep down I know: if the gears in my mind never get a chance to rest, to be maintained, to be repaired, they will break. And I will be out of commission for far longer than if I just took the brief, periodic respites that I needed. So, I urge you to block off time where your business doesn’t exist — and do something else.
And, when you schedule this downtime, honor your commitment to yourself. Don’t let anything freelancing-related creep in and steal your much-deserved moments of rest.
2.) Spend Time with Loved Ones
Your loved ones have the power to restore you. They can distract you from your daily stressors, make you laugh, give your spirits a boost, and help you feel ready to face the challenges of tomorrow. So, try to spend as much time with them as possible. After all, that’s one of the perks of being self-employed. You get to focus on what really matters to you. So don’t let being busy in your business cloud the reason you started it in the first place.
3.) Find a Creative Outlet
A creative outlet can help you relieve stress, work through problems, and come to new realizations. It can remove any bad vibes and put you in the right mental state to take your freelance business to the next level. But how do you find the right outlet for you?
It may take some experimentation, but a good rule of thumb is to choose one that doesn’t feel like work. So, if you’re a freelance writer, consider painting. Or, if you’re a graphic designer, give journaling a try. It’s entirely up to you. When you find “the one,” you’ll know. You’ll feel an instant connection — and you’ll be at peace when you do it.
Personally, I plan to start playing my trumpet again after a nearly two-decade hiatus. I remember the way it used to make me feel and I wish I never let it go. Tell me: what creative pursuits make your heart sing?
4.) Get Enough Sleep
Building and running a business takes so much energy out of you — energy that you must replenish in order to sustain your pace. Getting adequate, restful sleep is key to restoring your mind and body after a long day of executing on your entrepreneurial vision. That means — ignore the productivity gurus who tell you to get up before the sun. And tell rabid proponents of the hustle culture where to go when they advise you to pull frequent all-nighters.
I get it. Sometimes, you’re going to work longer hours than you should to meet a deadline or because you’re in a state of flow. But – try to commit to a designated sleep schedule as best you can. Sleep deprivation is no joke (and no badge of honor, either). It can cause a whole host of health problems that will slow you — and your business development efforts — way down.
5.) Eat Right and Exercise
You saw these coming, right? It’s cliche, but true: your health is your greatest asset. If you eat a nutritious diet (most of the time) and move your body regularly, you drastically improve your potential longevity and reduce the risk of some nasty illnesses.
Of course, you may someday be faced with a health concern that doesn’t give two bits about how fit you are. But, it’s important to take ownership of what you can influence – your current habits. Your future self and freelance business will thank you.
6.) Delegate and Outsource
As a freelancer (and as a person, really), it can be tough to delegate or outsource tasks to others. It may feel like you’re shirking a responsibility. And you might also worry if someone else will handle it as well as you do. But, the truth it: you can’t do it all. No one can. And, once you get over your initial hesitations, offloading some of your to-do list actually feels quite freeing.
Of course, there are some things you should always take care of personally, like client work (unless the client has agreed to the use of subcontractors). However, there are loads of other less critical, but still important tasks, that you can scrape off of your plate. You could hire a virtual assistant to do some administrative work for you. Or, you could sign up for a meal kit delivery service to pare down on the cooking.
Your main goal is to take back some of your time. You’ll feel less stressed. And, you can use those newfound hours to rest or focus on the activities that really move your freelance business forward.
Sometimes, self-care is synonymous with splurging. Often, we deny ourselves what we want because it’s “unnecessary” or “too expensive.” But, on occasion, it’s perfectly fine to chuck that language right out the window! No, this isn’t your license to go off the rails. Rather, it’s permission to reward yourself for your hard work.
So, go ahead. Go to your favorite restaurant and don’t skip the dessert. Or, buy the new trinket or doodad you’ve been eyeing forever. Spending your hard-earned money to fulfill your desires makes all of your effort worthwhile and encourages you to keep going.
Self-care isn’t a novel concept. Nor are the ideas I’ve shared with you here. But, I share them because they’re proven and worth implementing. We often need reminders about the seemingly obvious because we get too wrapped up in our lives to take notice. So — this is my reminder to you: self-care is your friend and an ally to your business.
There you have it – a few ways to take care of yourself – and ultimately your enterprise. There are lots of other self-care techniques, too. So, do a little digging and adopt the methods that work best for you.