Apart from numerous blessings that freelancing has on one’s lifestyle, there is a negative side that we do not normally pay attention to. As freelancers we often get carried away and spend huge amounts of time in front of computers and other devices, which is not always good for our health. Temporary gratification resulting from the increased income often ends with irreversible harm not only to our bodies, but to our mental state.
Being always connected, people will also use tablets while commuting, eating or waiting in a queue to a dentist, among lots of other things.. All of this can have harmful effects on our health.
Galilea3 has decided to fill this gap and take some action to raise awareness of sedentary lifestyle hazards among freelancers. Let’s make 2015 the year of breaking bad habits. Let’s combat global statistics which say that more and more of us have problems with obesity, insomnia and that we need more medications to improve our condition.
After realizing this enormous problem, we came up with a guide for freelancers, which includes simple tips on how to make freelancing less harmful to people. We provide you a top-to-bottom list of those parts of your body that need more attention, and suggestions for improving their condition while working. With a little effort you will be able to live a healthy life even if you spend long hours having only a computer as a company.
BODY IN GENERAL
Freelancers are prone to gain unhealthy habits due to their working conditions. Sedentary lifestyle, nibbling snacks, smoking, and sitting at dirty a desk in one room without a breath of fresh air are just some of the hazards of working in a home office. Such a lifestyle can contribute to weight gain or high blood pressure.
How to avoid it:
Instead of snacking between meals why can’t you drink water or take water-rich food. This will help more in controlling calories. There is also no danger in having some fruits, vegetables or oatmeal when working as a freelance. Remember to eat 5 small meals during the day and to set stable hours for each meal.
Exercising helps you to stay healthy. Stretch your body regularly and it will repay you with vitality and energy. Remember to take regular breaks while working, try not to sit in front of the computer for longer than 1 hour without a break. Here are some useful stretching exercises, but working at home gives you this freedom to exercise in any way you like and at any time.
photo credit: ohsheglows.com
BRAIN & MIND
Do you have constant troubles with concentration? Do you feel that you want to say something but can’t really verbalize your thoughts? Do you tend to forget more things? If you have experienced those symptoms more frequently lately it means you may be suffering from a brain fog. Brain Fog is a mental dysfunction characterized by a lack of clear thinking and problems with concentration. Being your own boss, seeking for clients, meeting deadlines and managing your household duties at the same time can be stressful and exhausting. Respect your brain and take those small steps to prevent it from getting foggy
What to do:
Be active. When you move your muscles, blood is pumped through your brain, which tempts the release of brain- and mood-enhancing compounds. When you sit for long hours everything slows down.
Be aware of what you eat. Write down everything you eat during the day. I mean everything! Write down also times of each meal or a snack. Human brain requires 3 types of macronutrients for its proper functioning. These nutrients include proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats and one mostly find them in lean meat, fish, whole-grain breads, starchy vegetables, low fat dairy, olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, walnuts and peanut butter.
Also, have time to look at your notes before you go to sleep and check how many of these are on your list. Check those elements that can be replaced by things from our list. Make a research on your own, read more articles about healthy lifestyle and try to eliminate your bad habits consequently.
The more you sit in front of a computer, the more difficult it may be for you to go out and socialize. Those of you who are not introverts, and who don’t feel relief after avoiding a face-to-face contact with other people, isolation may be disturbing. If you talk to your cat, nothing is wrong with you, but when you start to talk with your cat, you may want to have a look at some of the following alternatives.
What to do:
Fight with your anti-social behavior! The more people you meet, the more incentives you give to your brain and induce its proper functioning. Call your friends and be frank with them, maybe they suffer similar problem. Try to find a meet-up or other networking event in your neighborhood.
Keeping in touch with other freelancers, who share similar working conditions, helps you understand the source of your suffering and provide a comparison for your lifestyle. Sometimes even a small change can deliver a big result.
Find a workshop where you can learn new things and also get new ideas. Remember that success is not a result, but it’s a process. Developing new skills extends your horizons, inspires creative thinking, and gives you an opportunity to socialize with new people.
On that note, have you ever wondered how a 3D printer works? Do you have a broken radio, bike or remote control which is waiting to be replaced? Why not repairing it yourself? Nowadays there are more and more places called makerspaces, which provide great source of information and organize demonstrations of how to repair different things and make your own things from scratch. Go and visit the nearest one. Who knows, maybe your skills will be useful for some of the guys out there and you will create a cooperative?
Eye strain has different symptoms such as pain in the eyes or around the eyes, headache, red eyes etc. It happens when your eyes are tired from intense use over extended period. Here are some of the few things, which you can do for your eyes on a regular basis apart from getting an eye exam.
What to do:
Take regular breaks, remember not to look at the monitor for longer than one hour. There are some time management applications which can help you monitor the time you spend in front of a computer, such as Awareness or Work Rave. Another option is 20-20-20 rule. After every 20 minutes of work, look for 20 seconds at an object located about 20 feet away. It helps your eyes to relax. And last but not least turn down the brightness of your computer screen.
It might be funny to hear that if you spend too much time inside and avoid sunlight you may suffer a Vitamin D deficiency. Some of its symptoms include bone pain and muscle weakness. Vitamins are very important food compounds which are not produced by our bodies or are produced in inadequate amount. Because of that we need to supply them to our body in food, or, as in the case of a sun vitamin, via sunlight exposure.
How to avoid it:
Have time for a sun bath, make sure you don’t starve your body of sunshine. The vitamin D production is spurred by sunlight. About 20-25 minutes of sunlight exposure per day is enough for a person with light skin pigmentation to boost this vitamin production. Being able to work from everywhere in the world is the biggest advantage of freelancing.
You don’t have to take a break to spend some time outside. Take your laptop and go to the nearest cafe. Sit in the park or in your friend’s garden, if you don’t have your own. Sitting the whole day at home makes your job even unhealthier than the most blood sucking corporate position.
Our neck is one of the most vulnerable part of a human body especially if you forget to train it and continue to suffer the pain. Neck strain and back pain could be symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) which is caused by sitting in a sustained or awkward position. Freelancers spend much time in front of the screen without thinking of their sitting position. Just look at yourself right now. I could suppose that your neck is stretched-out a little bit, am I right? If yes, please, do the following simple exercises as often as you can. Let’s go, DO IT!
How to avoid it:
Try to take a short break and do the following exercises every 30 minutes. They are very simple, but really effective, and you don’t even have to stand up!
photo credit: exercises4neck
The next issue to which freelancers usually don't pay enough attention is the monotonous hand movement. More often, it applies to the right hand, which most of us use to manipulate the mouse, and to our fingers too. It can cause pain in joints and fingers numbness.
How to avoid it:
If you want to avoid this problem, from time to time make some unusual hand movements, such as the one below. For example, you can turn your wrists, clench and unclench your fist.
Photo credit: medicena.ru
Back, back, back and one more time BACK. Probably, it’s the most important part of your body, which is still waiting for your care. If you neglect it, you can catch arthritis. Thankfully, there are some ways to resolve the problem with your back. Apart from daily exercises in the morning or during the day.
In addition, you should find some time to swim. Swimming twice per week would be enough for your back, but if you have time or desire to do other physical activities it’s even better for you. In the summertime, the best idea is to go to a picnic. Not for eating, but playing football, volleyball, badminton. It will strengthen your relationship with friends and family.
If you already have a problem with your back and you have to work in a sitting position, we would advise you to try to use new technology devices. Thankfully, it is possible to connect your screen from a personal computer to a TV screen. You can find a wireless keyboard, paired it with a mouse and a trackpad. Then, you choose the most comfortable position with a good stand, a large shelf board to hold on your devices. As a result, you work and your back is relaxing. This is a great example, which shows that impossible is possible.
What to do:
When your body is bored of a stable sitting position, start moving it and tell yourself: “I like to move it”, try it, you will feel better. Apart from physical movements which bring relief to your body, you need to remember about relaxation to satisfy your over stimulated brain. The combination of smooth music and change of position, can bring a new positive energy and prepare you for new projects and new efforts.
Make a chore between your projects. It is not a secret that we try to avoid and postpone the household chores because they are not interesting. But they could help you to make a break for your mind, to make a draught of a fresh air to feel better. That way you’ll make a useful thing for your brain and for your home.
Try jogging in the morning or in the evening. Any physical activities are necessary for a healthy body. When you run, you increase blood circulation and train your cardio system.
Don’t neglect a break to get some fresh air to sleep better, feel rested and avoid insomnia or negative thinking.
There are some parts of our body which are also liable to the danger of sedentary lifestyle. This time we mean legs. This issue concerns everyone, not only freelancers, because in the 21 century we all spend most of our time sitting. Just stop for a moment and think, how much we sit during a day: when we eat, drink a coffee/tea, drive a car, use a public transport (if you are lucky and find a seat), not to mention working time and free time which we devote to surfing the Internet and checking updates on social media.
Sitting all day with the same leg position can cause a congestion of blood in veins. This can result in varicose veins or edema. The other common problem is a numb knee. You definitely know this feeling, don’t you? So if you don’t want to feel it again, you shouldn’t sit several hours without standing up and walking.
Seemingly, there is nothing special in simple walk to the kitchen or around the building, but it helps you to stay a healthy and active freelancer. And as we know a healthy freelancer can do more qualitative projects than the one who sneezes and stays in bed because of an illness. Don’t neglect the simple exercises to sit pretty.
Try to spend fewer hours in front of a computer. Look for solutions to automate some of your work. Try not to be one of those who end up taking pills for their whole life and struggle with all sorts of pains on a daily basis.
Feel welcome to comment. Let us know if you liked this topic and if you’d like healthy tips for freelancers in the future.