The ability to control your own work/life balance is one of the distinct benefits of working freelance. However, at times when that balance is thrown out of kilter – for example, when you have a big project on, or an urgent deadline – then it’s all too easy for healthy eating and exercise to drop off the priority list.
With that in mind, here are some top tips to aid with keeping in shape while freelancing, even when you’re short on time.
Many home-based workers struggle to get the amount of exercise that they should. Some don’t really get any at all. However, there are some quick wins here too. Use technology to your advantage and download an exercise app like the Seven Minute Workout. It’s quick, simple to follow and surprisingly effective, particularly if you stick to it daily.
Incorporate exercise into your routine and you’re likely to stick with it. Leave it to the end of the day, when you’re tired and mentally drained, and you’re far more likely to simply move exercising onto tomorrow’s To Do list. Instead, take seven minutes to work out before you start for the day, or set an hourly timer so that you’re reminded to jump up and exercise for a few minutes regularly throughout the day.
A Fitbit can be a great help here – a subtle buzz on your wrist can have you sprinting round the garden several times a day before you even realise your routine has changed. Again, small changes can make a big difference.
Making exercise sociable can also help. Freelancing can be a lonely business, so why not join a local running club and meet people while you get fit? All you need is a decent pair of trainers and away you go! You could even start your own club – why not reach out to other freelancers in your area through social media and build a useful network at the same time as burning some calories? You never know when such contacts could come in handy.
If you’re based at home, then you have a wealth of cooking options available to you – far more than most office workers enjoy. Take full advantage of your facilities in order to prepare yourself a wide range of delicious, nutritious meals. There are thousands of recipes online if you need inspiration.
Planning head is key here – if you’re busy at work and there’s nothing in the fridge, it’s all too easy to eat takeaways and junk food. Instead, cook and freeze meals ahead if you know you’re going to be busy, or make something like a giant, veg-packed pasta bake that you can dip into whenever you’re hungry and that’s packed with vitamins and minerals to keep you at the top of your game.
Your choice of snacks can make a big difference to the overall healthiness of your diet. Chocolate, crisps and cake might be quick and easy munchies while you work, but they won’t do your waistline any good. Keep a bowl of fruit by your desks, along with a hand stash of cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit and other snacks that will give you a quick energy boost without piling on the pounds.
Staying healthy isn’t just about eating the right foods and exercising. Getting enough sleep is also hugely important, particularly in terms of maintaining a consistent mood and sense of wellbeing. If you have the time, feel free to nap strategically when your body tells you that you need it. Cat naps have been shown to boost productivity and performance at work, so snatching 20 minutes to snooze could mean you actually get more work done than if you had been awake all day. Just remember to set your alarm so that you don’t sleep all afternoon!
What are your top tips for staying fit and healthy while freelancing? What have you found really works for you long-term? Share your thoughts via the comments.