So here we are, officially into the coldest and darkest months in the northern hemisphere. This is the gloomiest time of the year for most of us whether we’re a freelancer or in a “proper” job, but for freelancers it’s easy to neglect to take care of ourselves. Last year, I wrote an article about working smarter in the winter. This is far less about work and more about what you do when not at work.
So kick back, relax, get your favourite beverage and prepare to let a freelancer tell you in the comfort of your work space, how to get away from your work space.
Exercise During the Day
If you are a runner (like me), a climber (like me) or a walker (like me), you know the benefits of a weekly exercise regime. Most people in regular work probably come home, eat dinner, let it go down and then head out to the gym in the dark. This routine will not really work for you because they get more daylight than you do during their lunch break. You can maximise your sunshine exposure by going for a run during mild/dry/whatever autumn-winter weather you most prefer. Exercise during the day gives you the mental break you need. Also, when you go to the gym or other communal place of exercise, you get that vital human contact.
Do Stuff At Weekends
Going out for a walk, the pub, for a meal etc is easy in the spring and summer because you want to make the most of the sunshine. In the winter, you wake up and it’s cold, wet and miserable. It’s tempting to stay wrapped up in the duvet, sipping coffee and playing on the X-Box all day. But this adds to your isolation, it affects your mood and saps your energy. Not good. The run-up to Christmas is quite easy if you like Christmas. I happen to like visiting the beach in winter. There’s something calming and pleasant about the seaside at this time of year which makes it ideal living so close to a beach in Cornwall where I do.
I really cannot emphasise enough the importance of disconnecting when you work from home. We tend to get better weather in Cornwall, and I don’t generally feel the cold, so I’m lucky to live in Cornwall again that I find sunny yet cold days rather pleasant. I’ll quite happily go outside in December with a cup of coffee and genuinely take 10-15 minutes away from my desk. Ditto for my lunch break. As pleasant as they are, they are necessary for self-employment, not luxuries.
Work in Another Location One Day Per Week
Getting out of the flat/house every so often to work will pep you up a bit. Every Wednesday, I go down to a local coffee shop (Muddy Beach overlooking the Penryn River) for my Jelly group. I tend to get more work done on a Wednesday. Did you know that background noise is not actually a distraction, but beneficial to productivity? Meeting new people at local get-togethers, even for work, is good for mental health. I now know most of the employees by their first name and they by mine. There is even a bit of running joke with some of them about predicting what I will order when I arrive because I (nearly) always order the same thing when I arrive.
Take an Impromptu Day Off
Try to stop thinking about a day off as lost money. It’s not healthy to keep thinking of it in those terms. A day off on occasion will help you disconnect from the home office workspace and provide something to look forward to. Sometimes, you simply need to take a day off to get other chores done, or to combine all of your vital self-care into one eight-hour day. It’s a luxury of freelancing so take one during a quiet week instead of chasing and agonising over work.