Is Freelancing Hurting Your Health?

If you’re not careful, your freelancing work habits can make you sick.

We freelancers, many of whom rely on our computers to make our living, are particularly vulnerable to to unhealthy habits.

At first it might seem that spending long hours at the computer without a break and relying on convenience foods for most of your meals allows you to get more work done. Temporarily, these poor habits may actually seem to increase your productivity.

But that increase in productivity is an illusion. Over time, unhealthy habits will take a toll on your health and ultimately on your business. An unhealthy lifestyle over the long-term is actually a very poor business strategy.

It doesn’t have to be that way — you can make healthy choices and succeed as freelancer. Here are five simple habits that will help you stay healthy and productive:

Five Healthy Habits For All Freelancers

Here are five healthy habits that you should consider adopting now to improve both your health and your business productivity:

  1. Get Enough Sleep. Whether it’s the result of over scheduling your time or procrastination, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using your sleep-time to complete projects. However, sleep fulfills an important function for all human beings. Like eating and breathing, sleep is a basic human need. Over time, a lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration, learning difficulties, and slower reaction times. Lack of sleep could even result in memory lapses, problems with your behavior, or excessive moodiness.
  2. Get Enough Exercise. If your freelancing work is primarily done on the computer, then that means that you are probably sedentary most of the day. To get enough exercise to stay healthy you will need to make a special effort. Exercise can help combat many serious conditions such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Studies have also shown that those who exercise regularly sleep better and, in general, have a more positive attitude about life.
  3. Eat Properly. As a freelancer, it’s really tempting to grab the food that’s most convenient. Usually, however, convenience foods are not the best choices when it comes to eating properly. They tend to be highly processed and contain lots of sodium and extra chemicals. When you are hungry, rather reaching for the most convenient bite to eat, opt instead for fresh food with little to no processing. A good diet can reduce your chances of getting sick and you’ll feel better overall when you eat right.
  4. Pay Attention to Your Posture. Did you know that your posture can affect how you feel? As a webworker, it may be tempting to hunch over your computer or your keyboard as you work. Bad posture, however, can lead to muscle pain, headaches, or back problems. Make sure that your workstation is comfortable. Your chair should provide adequate support. Your computer monitor and keyboard should be positioned so that you don’t have to lean over in order to see the screen or type on the keys.
  5. Manage Stress. The problems associated with too much stress have been widely documented. Not only can stress cause health problems, it can also cause affect your outlook on life and even negatively affect your ability to make good decisions. Some stress may be inevitable to freelancing (or any type of work, for that matter). However, it is possible to reduce some stress through managing your time more efficiently and other techniques.

Health Freelancer = Productive Freelancer?

Even though I’m a generally healthy person, it’s easy to ignore these healthy habits. However, I’ve noticed that whenever I do pay proper attention to my health I always seem to be more productive. I feel better, think more clearly, and make better decisions.

On the other hand, I’ve noticed that whenever I shortchange my health I generally wind up paying for my neglect. I get sick more easily. My projects seem to drag on forever and I tend to make many more mistakes.

As a freelancer, how have healthy habits impacted your business? Have you made any “healthy” changes that have affected your productivity?

How do you incorporate healthy habits into your busy freelancing lifestyle?

Share your thoughts in the comments.