Top Tips: How to Stay Healthy When Working for Yourself
By: Angelica Malin
Wondering how to stay healthy when working for yourself? Working for yourself is challenging; you’ve got to manage your own schedule, be your own boss and create the most inspiring, productive work environment possible. One aspect that is often overlooked when working for yourself is your mental and physical health – it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself, when you’re stressing out about deadlines, invoices and to-do lists. As a young entrepreneur (who’s moved offices 4 times in as many years!) I’ve found some tips and tricks for being healthy whilst working yourself, here’s some things I’ve learnt along the way:
Create a good work environment
It may sound basic, but creating a great work environment when you work for yourself is so important. Put your mental health first when you work for yourself, it will make all the difference. You want your work environment to reflect your personality – I find clean, bright, light work environments make me the most creative and happy. I’m like a plant – I need natural light to survive, and realised that dingy work spaces were sapping my creativity. If possible, have a separate work space in your apartment to work – I find a separation of work and play spaces really help you focus, and create a necessary divide between work and relaxation hours. It’s easy to spend hours on your laptop in bed, but having a home office can help create an emotion divide between work and personal time.
Join a co-working space
If you’re the kind of person that gets easily distracted working from home, then a co-working space might be a great option for you. Co-working spaces are a good way to meet like-minded people and create a sense of community around you and your work. One of the most challenging aspects of working for yourself is the mental strain it can put on you – having people around you to support and nuture you is so important, and a co-working space is a great place to start. WeWork has offices in 59 countries worldwide, with some great weekly events, meet-ups and networking opportunities.
Take regular work breaks
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that working for yourself means working the whole time – but this really isn’t the case. Working harder doesn’t always mean working smarter, and taking regular breaks throughout the day (as you would if you were working for someone else) is a really good way to keep your mind fresh and active. I find it’s crucial for me to take an hour for lunch every day, and do something that isn’t work – this means I’m more refreshed for the afternoon and feel more productive. Allow yourself the space for some physical activity, whether that’s a lunch-time walk, a yoga class or post-work gym session, a little boost of feel-good endorphins during your work day is a great way to boost your mental health.
Find a work structure that works for you
Not everyone works in the same way. Some people are most productive in the mornings, others are total night-owls who get their best work done late at night. Don’t fight against your natural working habits – they are the ones that suit you best. I used to feel guilty working late into the night, but I’ve come to realise that this works well for me – and allow myself some hours in the evening to get work done, and enjoy a more leisurely morning with yoga and coffee. Especially if you have kids, it’s about work / life integration, rather than a work / life balance – allow yourself to integrate the two, rather than struggling to fit everything into a rigid structure. Find a system that works for you, and let go of judgement if it’s different to how other people work. That’s the joy of working for yourself after all!
Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep!
You’d think it would be much easier to eat healthier when you work for yourself, but boy is this not the case! I find you often have less time when you work for yourself – and feel more guilty for taking time off work – so preparation is key. I find taking Sunday nights to prepare food for the week is really useful, especially easy bulk meals like cooked quinoa, grilled veggies, homemade hummus and overnight oats. The time that I spend on a weekend means I have lots of tasty, healthy meals to enjoy throughout the week whether I’m working from home or out (god bless Tupperware!) and this really boost my mood and productivity. I find websites like Honestly Healthy, Deliciously Ella and Madeline Shaw are really great resources for quick, healthy meal prep ideas – I follow them all on Instagram so I can get a daily dose of inspiration. I used to skip breakfast a lot when I first started working for myself, but this would make me so hungry and grumpy by lunch time, and my productivity really started to drop in the afternoons! Learning to prep a delicious breakfast the night before – like Bircher Muesli, homemade granola or a protein shake – has really boost my work day and gets me all set up for a productive and happy work day ahead.