Watch Yourself

I want to talk about taking care of one’s health from the perspective of a freelancer. Erika has addressed the subject of burnout and the importance of time off in an earlier post, but I want to look at health on a day-to-day basis. When work gets busy, it’s very easy to get caught up and just push on through full speed ahead, after all, one has to make up for the slower months. As freelancers we don’t have the luxury of set schedules and consistent days off, so it is easy to forget to do normal people things such as… sleeping and eating three meals a day.

A typical scenario – you’re on a shoot and there are only a couple of shots you need left but it’s lunch time. You tell yourself, I’ll just push through, get these done, and grab some food on the way home. Then things take longer than expected, one thing leads to another and you realize you haven’t eaten more than a croissant and a coffee all day (this happens to me at least once a week). The same thing goes for sleep – I’ll catch up on a proper night’s sleep tomorrow, but then tomorrow something else comes up, and then something else the day after that. Speaking from experience, one can only survive so long on 5 hours of sleep a night and full days of work. Eventually you will crash and crash hard. So what does one do? Here are some tips for day-to-day life as a freelancer.

Eat Your Meals When It’s Time – Don’t wait for a convenient time to eat, just go do it. Half an hour won’t ruin your whole schedule, in fact you will probably be more alert and work better after you’ve had a meal.

Bring Snacks – Granola bars, fruits, sandwiches, if you know you might not be able to eat a meal on time, make sure you have some snacks do get you through until you can eat proper.

Eat in Nice Places – When on the road, Tim Hortons and McDonalds are usually the first things you’ll see when looking for a place to eat. Keep driving, find a restaurant that serves real food and reward yourself for working hard.

Go to Sleep Early, Wake Up Late – If you know you have an early call time, get to bed early to give yourself a normal amount of sleep (7-8 hours). Alternatively, if you had a long night, then sleep in. Isn’t that what freelancing is all about?

Take Naps – Naps are the greatest thing in the world. You might not get to sleep a full night, but it’s fairly easy to sneak a nap or two into your day. Tip: time your naps in 20 minute increments to get the most energy out of them (20m, 40m, 60m, etc.).

Go Outside, Talk to Someone – Working at home, editing day after day can be just as taxing as shooting. Make sure to go outside every day, grab lunch with a friend or go read in the park, just get away from your computer.

Bring a Coat – When shooting outside, especially during sunrise or sunset, temperatures can vary drastically. Your immune system already isn’t the greatest, thanks to the sleep deprivation and a steady diet of coffee and muffins, getting sick is the last thing you want. Always bring a sweater or coat, in the winter an extra pair of socks can be a life saver.

Stay healthy and take care of yourself! If you have other tips for keeping your health in check please share them in the comments.

Photo by: Harold Groven

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