15 April 2019 by Kelle Salle We don’t pay attention to self-care until something serious happens. As a freelancer, taking some time to indulge in some ‘me’ time can be challenging, but it is a necessity. Being self-employed is very different to a 9-5 role. There’s no clocking in and out and your schedule is subject to change almost every single day. Taking a break to focus on self-care occasionally is paramount to one’s wellbeing – it provides a great sense of purpose as well as an opportunity for self-reflection. As a wise man once said, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, so here are some tips on how to take care of yourself while freelancing: Don’t be so hard on yourself Building a business on your own isn’t easy – you need a whole lot of drive and determination to turn your dreams into a reality. At times, the pressure of freelancing can increase your stress levels. However, the idea of freelancers not being able to eat if they don’t work is a myth. Time off is an option you can exercise so don’t feel guilty if you take one afternoon off to focus on yourself. One of the reasons why people choose to go freelance is for a better work-life balance. Adjusting your schedule may take some time so start small – 15-minute meditation breaks or finishing half an hour early will help you ease your way into ‘me time’. Setting your hours will help you stay focused - what you shouldn’t do is work through the night as this can take its toll on your mental health. Pay attention to your work environment Your work environment and productivity go hand in hand. As a freelancer, your choice of workspace is important, because it is where you will spend the majority of your time. If you choose to work from home, you aren’t alone. According to Freelancermap, 51% of freelancers have turned an area of their home into an office. Working from home will also require you to have a system in place, especially if organisation isn’t one of your strong points. Keep everything you use regularly in one place and be sure to declutter as and when you need to. Feelings of loneliness are inevitable when you’re going it alone, so find a local network that you can be a part of. Also, explore coffee shops and working spaces so you’re not keeping yourself company all the time. Celebrate your achievements Making money and gaining recognition is a big source of motivation for freelancers. Take time to reap the rewards of your work. Don’t feel guilty if you decide to go out with friends or catch up with your favourite show on Netflix. A lack of satisfaction will send you into overdrive and this can lead to burnout. Remember that a finished project is always celebration worthy. Don’t be afraid to switch off once in a while Even full-time professionals find it hard to switch off from time to time. The difference between freelancing and working a 9-5 is that you are your own boss. Nobody is going to recognise you for your extra hard work or accomplishments. If you get to a place where you are feeling stressed and finding it hard to focus, you need to switch off. Strategise. Think about how you plan to tackle the issue at hand, and once you’ve thought things through, try to forget about work. Surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you Re-evaluating your circle is a vital form of self-care. Once in a while, you will need to ask yourself if the people in your life are adding value to it. Relationships are at the centre of freelancing. There will be days when you question your abilities, so having people around you who remind you why you started in the first place is always a blessing.