Do Freelancers Put Work Before Health?

In a recent story in Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, small business owners are putting work before their health.

Forty percent of small business owners who responded to a survey conducted by Manta, an online community for small business, say that this year’s business climate took a toll on their personal health.

One in three — 33 per cent — said they are working out less, 22 per cent said they’ve gained weight or eat less healthy, and 14 per cent said they are more short-tempered and argue with family and co-workers, according to the latest Manta SMB Wellness Index, which surveyed 1,000 small-business owners. As well, 28 per cent said their stress had increased or their health had been negatively affected since starting their business. –The Globe and Mail

It’s no secret that starting and running your own business is tough—especially as a freelancer. You are your own…everything! Sixty-three percent of respondents to this poll say they averaged more than 40 hours per week. When you have to be your company’s sales person, marketing guru, administrator, and lead creative—putting in more than 40 hours (especially when you’re first getting started) seems to be the norm.

There are some ways that freelancers can work to lead a healthier life. Here are some ideas…

Ergonomics

I have been finding that my shoulders are getting increasingly tight while I work on my computer. I put a more ergonomically correct office chair on my Christmas list. Making sure you are comfortable and supported while you spend hours in front of the computer can make a difference—especially when your other option is to fork over money for a weekly massage or  worse, wait until the pain is unbearable and end up in bed.

Exercise

It’s also important to eat right and get some exercise. When I lived in Boston and New York City, my commute to work included walking over half a mile to the subway station (one way) each day. When I moved to the suburbs of New England, I drove everywhere—and promptly gained 10 pounds.

Now I work from home where there’s no where to even walk to get lunch. I make sure to have healthy stuff on hand at home for a lunch break—away from my desk—each day. I build my shopping list around it! And I make sure to eat breakfast—something I used to grab on my way to work. The extra energy boost keeps me alert before lunch and helps ease me into my day.

Stress Relief

One of the other things that helps me throughout the day is the little guy who sleeps under my desk—my Chihuahua. He is a great stress reducer for me. When I need a break, I just give my dog some attention and love.

Don’t have a pet and feeling stressed? Take a few moments and do some deep breathing exercises or some stretches at your desk. You’d be amazed at how much better you will feel after giving your body and mind a break.

Health Insurance

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have health insurance coverage. It would be a good idea to look into a policy for a self-employed person. You don’t want to not go see a doctor when you really need to, which would only exacerbate the problem. Whether it’s stress or carpal tunnel syndrome, access to a doctor is important and could make a huge impact on your life.

Staying healthy might not be your top priority when you are on deadline—but it shouldn’t be something you overlook. Small changes in your day can make a big difference.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by xilius.

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