Six ways you can stay healthy and sane if you’re a gig worker

Are you a freelancer or gig worker? Here are six ways you can stay healthy and sane working from home on your own.

The gig economy is growing three times as fast as the entire US labor force. And freelancing is especially popular among women with families.

The flexible hours and ability to work from anywhere are huge advantages. We’ve already covered the six health pros and cons of working in the gig economy. But how do you stay sane and healthy if you decide to be one?

Trethowans
Trethowans

1) Stay healthy with exercise

As a rule, office workers tend to spend around 75% of their day behind a desk. In a conventional office environment, employees take movement-based micro-breaks and may choose to walk to work. 

However, the gig worker at home doesn’t have the same level of activity, and so needs to make a determined effort to factor exercise into their day.

There are many fitness influencers who inspire people to get active in the day, and many of them have launched online classes you can join of varying lengths.

You don’t need to schedule hour-long gym sessions to maintain your fitness. Instead, take a ten-minute break once an hour. During this time, walk around your home, jog on the spot, or perform stretches. Anything that gets the blood pumping works.

Alternative ways you can get more exercise include:

  • Using a standing desk.
  • Performing some tasks, such as taking phone calls, standing.
  • Doing stretches and simple exercises at your desk.

Regular breaks will also reduce the chance of you developing a repetitive stress injury.

2) Switch to ergonomic furniture

It’s going to come as no surprise that spending hours a day slumped over a laptop isn’t good for you.

Instead, keeping your keyboard and screen at the correct height makes it easy to adopt the proper posture while working. Follow through with a supportive chair and by regularly checking that you’re not slouching.

Bad posture saps energy, causes muscle aches, headaches, poor digestion, and decreased circulation. To combat this, perform exercises that strengthen your core muscles.

3) Find healthy ways to deal with stress

Being a gig worker can entail dealing with high-stress situations. When you’re up against tight deadlines, it’s easy to work late into the night and difficult to take time off. And then you have the hassle of chasing clients for payment, and completing your tax forms.

Incorporating exercise helps you to deal with some stress, but you’ll need to take other steps as well.

Try to get into a set working routine. Divide your tasks up according to the amount of time they’ll take, and then assign a block of time to work on them. Give yourself a strict deadline, and work within it. Doing so will help you avoid time-wasting activities like checking emails and social media.

Tackle the more unpleasant tasks first thing to get them out of the way. Once they’re complete, you’ll feel more relaxed.

Set a daily time to switch over to personal time at the end of every day. While you may work past this once in a while, try to keep to this schedule. Switch off work notifications and relax until the next working day. Also, choose at least one to two days a week to be offline completely. 

Doing so helps you recharge your batteries and creates a clear delineation between home life and working life.

Plan treats at least once a week. These could be a visit to your favorite museum, a lunch date with a friend, or even an extended coffee break. Make firm appointments for these items so that you always have something to look forward to.

4) Make dietary changes

When you’re in work mode, it’s easy to forget to eat. You then often end up so ravenous that you grab the nearest snack. It’s convenient, but your long-term performance will suffer for it.

Instead, consider buying veggies and other items that you can make a meal out of in minutes. Always eat breakfast, and set alarms to remind you about tea, lunch, and supper. If you’d love more tips, find out how to eat your way to productivity when working from home.

5) Try to socialise

Working alone at home or while looking after your kids has its benefits. But social interaction isn’t one of these. Let’s face it – working on your own as a freelancer can be lonely.

So make an effort to get out and mingle with people. Make time to visit friends and family, and maybe even find other local freelancers and meet up occasionally. You never know – you may even find that you can pass work onto each other.

Many freelancers even work in coworking spaces one or two days a week just to be around other people.

6) Get some sun

It’s important to maintain your quote of vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency affects your mood, immunity, ability to heal yourself. But the good news is that sunlight helps our body to produce vitamin D, and just 15 minutes of sun exposure a day can be all you need.

So make sure you get outside at least once a day. You can even combine getting vitamin D with a stroll around the nearest park (ticking exercise off your list) and meeting a friend (ensuring you’re socialising). Alternatively, invest in a sun lamp or eat more dairy and oily fish. 

Make sure you maintain a good work-life balance

It’s easy to fall into bad habits when you’re a gig worker. Maintaining a good work-life balance is the first step in reversing this trend. Eating properly, exercising, socialising, and getting out from behind your desk are all essential in protecting your health… and sanity.

Photo by Cristina Gottardi