The way that we work has changed so much over the last decade and the number of people working as freelancers has increased dramatically. There are a lot of great things about being a freelancer and many people love the lifestyle because they can work from home and set their own schedule and they don’t have to answer to a boss. Although being a freelancer can be very tough to start with, once you have a good base of clients, it’s a great way to make a living. There are a lot of things that you need to learn along the way, like self discipline and good money management, but once you get to grips with those things, you can start to enjoy the freelancer lifestyle.
However, if you plan to do this long term, you need to be aware of some of the downsides of being a freelancer. A lot of people don’t realise it but being a freelancer could be detrimental to your health in a few ways. But as long as you are aware of the health issues associated with being a freelancer, you can take steps to prevent them. These are some of the different ways that freelancing is bad for your health.
Lack Of Movement
We already talk a lot about the sedentary lifestyle that office workers live and the impact that it can have on their health and for freelancers, these problems are often a lot worse. If you work at home, you can spend days without really moving around much at all, and that’s not good for your health.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle you need to start active. People that sit at a desk all day long are more likely to have high blood pressure and their risk of heart disease is increased. Mental health issues like anxiety and depression (we’ll talk more about this later) are also made worse by living a sedentary lifestyle. You can even increase your risk of developing some cancers later in life if you don’t move around enough so staying active is very important.
Weight gain is another obvious problem caused by lack of movement because you aren’t burning off any calories. If you don’t do any exercise, it’s so easy to gain weight very quickly once you start working as a freelancer.
The best way to stay fit and healthy is to get regular exercise, but this can be tough if you have a jam packed schedule. But the great thing about being a freelancer is that you set your own schedule so you should try to fit in a workout video during lunch or go for a run after you finish working. You can also get some great pedaling machines that fit under your desk so you can move while you work.
Standing desks are another great solution to the problem because you burn a lot more calories when you are standing. You will find that you have fewer issues with back pain and you will be more productive because your brain is more engaged when you are standing. Even if you don’t change anything else, switching to a standing desk makes a huge difference.
Staring at a screen all day long isn’t great for your eyes, so freelancers need to be careful with their vision and pay attention to any changes. If you have been working as a freelancer for a while, it’s worth getting your eyes tested or at least buying some reading glasses (go here to get some great deals on glasses). There are some other simple tricks that you can use to reduce the strain on your eyes when you are using a computer all day long.
Switching the settings on your computer to filter the blue light out of the screen will make it a lot better on your eyes and prevent strain. It also makes it easier to sleep at night because blue light tricks your brain into thinking that it is still the daytime. You should also use the 20-20-20 rule while working. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at something that is 20 metres away. This allows your eyes to refocus and stops them from getting strained. If you take steps to look after your eyes, you should be able to avoid vision problems.
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) occur when stress is put on joints and tendons through repeated use. They are very common in people that spend all day typing on a computer and you may find that you have a lot of pain in your hands and wrists. The good news is, there are some simple ways to stop this from happening.
Taking regular breaks is the most important thing because it gives your joints a rest. When you are taking a break, you can do simple housework tasks so your joints are performing different movements and tasks.
Posture is very important as well because if your hands are not in the right position, you are more likely to develop repetitive strain injuries. It’s hard to get used to sitting with good posture if you are used to slouching over but it starts to feel more natural over time. If you can sit with good posture, it puts less strain on your body and helps to prevent RSI.
Investing the right equipment makes a big difference as well. Simple things like a wrist rest and an ergonomic keyboard will be a lot more comfortable when you are typing and they will reduce your chances of developing a repetitive strain injury.
Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues in freelancers are very common and it’s important that you are aware of your own mental wellbeing. When you work as a freelancer, you probably spend all day on your own and that isolation can lead to feelings of depression. Social interaction is so important and when you don’t get it at work, it’s important that you make an effort to have a rich social life outside of working hours. Finding other freelancers that you can connect with is always a great idea because they will be feeling the effects of isolation as well.
Stress can be a huge issue for freelancers as well. If you organise your time well, freelancing doesn’t have to be stressful. However, if you have a lot of deadlines coming up and you find it hard to motivate yourself, that pressure can lead to a lot of stress. If you don’t keep on top of stress, it can quickly develop into a serious mental health problem.
Money worries are another common cause of anxiety for freelancers. You don’t have a regular wage every month and there will always be slow periods. When you don’t have much work coming in and the bills are piling up, stress levels go through the roof and anxiety takes hold. It’s important that you learn how to manage your money properly and you put some aside when you have a lot of work on so you can get by during the slow periods.
If you do find that your mental health is suffering and stress is getting the better of you, it’s important to find ways to relax. You should also speak to a doctor if things are getting particularly bad.
Freelancing is a great lifestyle and there are a lot of amazing things about it. However, there are some hidden downsides and it’s important that you are aware of these potential health problems.