Freelancers may have escaped office politics to pursue what we love from the comfort of their homes… or the nearest coffee shop. But that does not make us immune from stress.
In fact, if anything, life as a freelancer can be just as stressful–or even more so–than life as an employee.
When business is bad, we worry about bills, what we’ll feed our children next week, or where our next client is going to come from. When business is good, we struggle with deadlines and the fact that there are ONLY 24 hours in a day.
Whether our workload is heavy or light, we may have to contend with isolation (no more chats at the water cooler), lack of sunshine and exercise… all of which add up to one stressed out freelancer.
In this post, I’ll identify ten techniques you can use to zap your own stress.
How to Zap Your Stress
Remember what they say about death and taxes? Add stress to that list. I’m pretty sure even the women of leisure in Hollywood have stress.
So, if we can’t escape stress, we must learn to manage it.
Here are ten of my favorite stress zappers:
- Water. Did you know the human body is made up mostly of water? Of course, you already knew that. When you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, and you sense a headache coming on, drink a full glass of water. And maybe another one. It’ll help.
- Physical Activity. Exercise produces feel-good hormones in our body. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise, either. For me, a few minutes of gentle yoga can do the trick. A few months ago, I suffered from severe headaches. I thought they were caused by eye problems, high blood pressure or something worse. After medical tests, my family doctor identified the cause: tension in my shoulders. After doing yoga for a few days, my headaches completely disappeared. If you’re looking for something new or different, check out Tai Chi or Shiva Nata. Also, try these yoga moves you can do at your desk.
- Change of Scene. Maybe your shoulders are tight because you’ve been working in the same position for four hours straight. Get up, bring your laptop to the kitchen, and work standing up for a change. Work in a different room. If you’re indoors, go outdoors. Or head to the park.
- Self Care. When was the last time you gave yourself permission to be pampered? Ladies, how about a facial and deep tissue massage? Or a few minutes in the sauna at the gym? Even a 20-minute soak in the tub (with no kids screaming on the other side of the door) can be enough to unkink those tense muscles.
- Deep Breathing. Here’s another simple but effective stress zapper: deep breathing! Last time I was having insomnia, I put on my earphones and played a meditation app on my iPod Touch. I hadn’t even finished the breathing exercises when I fell fast asleep. Proper breathing works. There are many ways to use breathing for relaxation. The simplest one is to breathe in to the (slow) count of three, hold for three counts, then exhale for three counts. You can also use this simple technique when you’re going through something stressful, like getting a blood sample drawn.