Self-Care for Side Hustlers
In just a few days, I'll be traveling to Mexico for the first time. It'll also be my first yoga retreat, AND my first time outside the U.S!
But these past few months have been full of firsts for me. And new routines have made their way into my workweek as a result.
I've learned that sticking to a self-care regimen is just as important as staying motivated. And while I'm very excited to tune out for a week in paradise, I realize this option isn't available to everyone.
But, treating yourself in other ways can still be a priority.
This month, I'm focusing on #SelfCareForSideHustlers by sharing the self-care practices that I've found helpful, with hopes that you'll find them useful, too.
Take breaks & eat your veggies
First and foremost, treat your body with the respect and the nourishment it deserves. This may seem like a no-brainer, but honestly it took me a while to get down.
I would spend hours at a time in front of the computer, wondering why my neck hurt. I skipped meals for the sake of finishing "just one more thing" and became confused when the quality of my work wasn't what I expected. I'd stay up way too late and feel groggy the next day, sacrificing my motivation to get a project done.
But I began to realize that prepping my meals in advance took the worry out of getting hungry mid-project. Taking breaks and sticking to a regular yoga practice mitigated the muscle pain caused by computer work. And instead of scrambling to fit all my client projects into one workday, scheduling out my content helped me get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
The point is, your body and mind rely on the care and attention you give it. Otherwise, you're the one who suffers the most.
TAKE ACTION: Start by picking at least one or two things you can do for your body a week—meal prep, meditation, exercise, etc.—and stick to it. My dear friend Laura LindaLou creates healthy, easy-to-meal-prep recipes that'll help get you through the week. And for a quick afternoon pick me up, I really enjoy Kait Hurley's #MoveandMeditate series, especially if you're working from home.
Set clear boundaries
Setting clear boundaries means knowing when to close your laptop and say, "that's all for now." You've already outlined better ways to treat your mind and body, so now comes the part where you actually follow through.
Developing clear boundaries can even improve other areas of your life, like balancing professional and personal relationships.
Knowing when to "call it" can give you structure by putting your mental and physical health first—which, as you already know, is paramount to your success.
TAKE ACTION: You might become more strict on what days you work and when you rest. Choose to eat your lunch away from your desk, if possible. Say "no" to posting on the weekend, and schedule client meetings during the week.
Create an intentional habit
With any luck, these new practices will eventually become your habits. But if you've already got a solid health plan in tact, you can still take deliberate steps to cheer yourself up.
TAKE ACTION: Pick something small that you want to do and try it every day, or at least a couple times a week. It could be as small as finding a new route home, drinking more water, or taking a walk.
Know when to ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We're all figuring this out as we go, and in my experience, creatives are always ready to provide insight about their hustle.
TAKE ACTION: Having trouble figuring out what to charge a client for a certain project? Reach out to creative communities that are doing similar work, and ask for advice. You can also seek out free or affordable resources, like YouTube or Skillshare, for introductions to the myriad of subjects relevant to you.
Know when to be selfish
On the flip side, know when you need to say no. The reality is, we think a lot about other people's needs when we work with clients, making sure to meet or exceed their expectations. But there's no reason why you should stop thinking about yourself in the process.
TAKE ACTION: Sometimes it can be difficult to give ourselves permissions to do this. After a long day, going to that networking event won't be worth it if you're tired and cranky. Keep your boundaries in mind and know when to protect yourself from yourself.
Revisit your why
When you feel the urge to give up (and you will), revisit your why. There is a reason why freelancing was attractive to us in the first place. Either a love for the craft, ability to work for yourself, or making your own schedule are all valid reasons to continue doing what we do. But of course, there are times when we might feel like we're in a little bit over our head.
When self-doubt comes out to play, you have two choices. You can either let them take over by giving up, or push through them and keep trying. Most commonly, remembering your intentions will help you make that decision.
TAKE ACTION: Think about what motivates you. Journaling, creative mapping, or creating a mood board can help with this. Personally, I like to write encouragement on post-it notes and hide them throughout my workspace as a nice surprise when I'm getting burnt out or feeling down.
Every now and again it's nice to get out of the world wide web. Did you know that recent research links excessive use of social media to many different mental health issues, including increased anxiety, depressive thoughts, and a reduced attention span? This means that the stress you're feeling during the week could simply be from scrolling through your Instagram!
TAKE ACTION: Once a week, I try to remove myself from social media by turning off my phone for a few hours to take care of things, albeit a bath or a project. On weekdays, I set a social media bedtime, shutting down all devices by 10pm. You might consider turning off notifications, or deleting apps from your phone entirely, as a method to switch off and regroup.