Don’t Neglect Your Health When You Work for Yourself

how not be ill when you are self employed
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By Jess Dixon

Hands up anyone who has ever sat in front of a computer for hours on end, only to end the day hungry, dehydrated, grumpy, and probably with back pain?

Yeah, me too.

When you work for yourself, it’s super easy to neglect your health in favour of just working all the time. But if you want your business to be sustainable and keep going from strength to strength, make it one of your new year’s resolutions to take better care of yourself in 2021.

Routinely neglecting your health because you’re so busy working? Here are a few simple strategies to help you keep your health in tip-top form without your business or productivity suffering

Set reminders

I like using the “Pomodoro timer” to remind me to take a short break every half hour and a longer break every couple of hours. Whether you use a similar tool or just set an alarm on your phone, having a reminder to take a break will ensure you don’t lose track of time. Just getting up to stretch your legs and get your eyes off the screen for a few minutes can help. 

Keep a bottle of water on your desk

Hydration is so important and even being slightly dehydrated is really bad for your body. Keep a large bottle of water on your desk and sip from it throughout the day. I like those bottles with markings on to show you how much you’re supposed to have drunk by different times of day. 

Keep snacks to hand

It’s easy to forget to eat when you’re engrossed in work. Though it’s ideal to take a proper lunch break every day, there will be times when this is not possible or practical. Keep easy, healthy snacks to hand so that you can nourish your body without needing to break your concentration when it’s deadline time. Granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, or rice cakes are just a few good options. 

Schedule exercise into your day

Exercise is important for all of us, and especially when we sit at a desk for most of the day. The key to getting your workout in is to schedule it and then stick to it like you would any other appointment. Whether you plan to take a walk with your partner at lunchtime, head to the gym at a specific hour, or take an online fitness class, make sure it goes in your diary and is factored into your plan for the day. 

Invest in some ergonomic equipment

When I first went freelance, the first thing I bought through my business expenses was a high quality, ergonomic keyboard. Some days I’ll type 10,000 words or more, and I’m usually sitting at my desk for 9-10 hours a day. A cheap keyboard wasn’t going to cut it. 

Whatever equipment you need for your office, get the best version of it for you that you can afford. RSI is the devil, and a work-related injury can seriously harm your health and productivity in the long run. 

Get a decent office chair

What you’re sitting on is at least as important as the equipment you use. Do you have a good office chair that properly supports your back? If you’re in pain at the end of a long working day, your chair probably isn’t adequate. Look into getting a good one that you can comfortably sit in for many hours at a time. 

If you don’t want to rush out and buy a new chair straight away, you could also try a footrest or a back support and see if those help. 

Look after your eyes

Do you work at a computer all day? If so, it’s really important to take care of your eyes. Look away from the screen every few minutes to give your eyes a break, and take plenty of longer screen breaks too. And don’t forget to get a regular eye test – and wear your glasses or contacts if you need them! 

Don’t forget your mental health, too

Overwork, chronic stress, and loneliness are just some of the most common mental health concerns among small business owners and freelancers. And 2020 has only exacerbated these issues. Take care of your mental health by taking regular breaks, learning how to say no, keeping in touch with family, friends, and colleagues, and getting some professional support if you need it. Caring for your mental health proactively is the best way to prevent burnout before it happens. 

What are your self-employment health tips?

We’d love you to share your favourite hacks with our readers. How do you stay healthy so you can keep your business healthy? Let us know! 

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