If there’s a freelancer out there that should know how to make self-care easier when the workload gets heavy, it’s one that specialises in wellbeing. That’s why I’m sharing my top tips that are actually implementable for freelancers – they’re quick, easy, and effective.
Take Speedy Meditation Breaks
Meditation and deep breathing are two awesome practices for stress reduction, focus and memory, but the recommended 20-30 minute sessions don’t squeeze in to a busy deadline-based schedule easily. So let’s break it up to make it a little more achievable. To start with, every time you start to feel overwhelmed or under huge pressure and unable to focus on your work, step away from the laptop. Sit down, put your hands on your tummy, and take 10 long, slow, deep breaths. Focus on the rise and fall of your tummy. And then, get back to it. This break of all of 1-2 minutes can switch your body from relying on the sympathetic to the para-sympathetic nervous system – from panic to calm. Got a little more time? As little as ten minutes can get you in a good headspace. A problem I find is that when my brain is overloaded, I can’t focus on my own thoughts, so instead, I turned to guided meditations. One of my favourite guided meditations for a work break is over at Meditation Oasis – their Mini-Break meditation takes only nine minutes, and gets me calmer and more prepared to work hard every single time I use it!
Dose Up On Therapeutic Teas
Drinking tea always makes you feel like a more accomplished business-person, but the tea you pick can significantly improve your wellbeing, so for ultimate self-care on a time budget, be tea savvy.
Ginkgo Biloba is my staple tea for when my brain is a little bit fuzzy. It contains antioxidants that actually increases blood flow to the brain, helping you to concentrate for longer and aiding with memory. It also has a mild stress-relieving effect, making it twice as good for deadline time.
Ginseng can help you to adapt to stress when it starts to pile up. It’s classed as an adaptogen, which targets your adrenal glands and HPA axis, allowing you to balance your stress hormones and helping your body to cope with higher stress levels. It’s also quite energizing, so is a good tea to drink for an energy hit when you can’t consume any more caffeine.
Green tea is the perfect choice when you need a caffeine hit, but are already under a fair bit of stress. It has the caffeine levels that will boost up your energy and keep you powering through the day. But it also has an antioxidant that can physically reduce the level of stress hormones in your body.
Remember to use hot, not boiling, water to prep your green tea, otherwise it will taste bitter and gross.
Chamomile is your go-to tea at the end of the day, when you’re ready to start winding down and get a good rest. Quality sleep is absolutely essential for clearing your stressed out mind and keeping your immune system primed. With that being said, for ladies who are expecting, you’re best off consulting a practitioner about an appropriate tea for you – some forms of chamomile can induce uterine contractions in pregnancy.
Use High Intensity Movements
Exercise has oodles of benefits for a busy person, but slogging it out in the gym for an hour or more could be the difference between hitting the deadline or missing it completely. So when time gets tight, it’s time to reduce the timing and increase the intensity.
High intensity can be applied to cardio and strength training, depending on your preference. So for cardio options, you might run sprints or jump rope for a few minutes, alternating between a casual pace and a high intensity. For strength training, a combination of body-weight exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups and tricep dips performed one after another with little to no breaks can give you an effective workout in 10 minutes or less.
Enjoy Some Cuddle Time
Emotional support is a key part of getting through incredibly stressful periods without having a complete meltdown, but when deadlines loom you simply don’t have time for lazy brunches with girlfriends or Sunday sippers at your local pub with the crew. So, a quick and effective way to feel supported and to boost your happy hormones? It’s time to get your snuggle on.
Whether it’s your partner, your kids, or your pet, having a cuddle can release feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters and calm you right now. I know whenever I am getting close to wanting a bit of a cry, I lean down to my staffie (she’s always asleep on my feet!) and give her a good kisses and cuddles session. It only has to be for a few minutes – after that I feel calmer, have greater perspective and am able to get back to my work.
Make Nourishment Non-Negotiable
The one aspect that might take a little more time is making sure you nourish yourself. Without sufficient nutrients, you will get fuzzy-headed, sick and unable to work – it’s just a fact. Eating regular meals that have protein, good fats and vegetables will keep your blood sugars and energy levels steady, and keep your brain working. With that being said, you can get smart about how to get the nourishment in. When you cook a meal, cook a large batch and store leftovers in the freezer so you can have a quick meal on hand when time gets shorter. Or you can find healthier options for quick foods – I’ll often stock up on dips such as tzatziki and avocado as a quick, convenient snack or light meal to eat with veggie sticks.
Self-care is the number one way to make sure you’re the best freelancer you can be. So if you’re dealing with looming deadlines and low motivation, why not incorporate some of these speedy tips, and feel the difference they can make.
- Here’s how to practice self-care when juggling freelance deadlines - October 17, 2016