If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that the human spirit is resilient and adaptable. But adapting to stress doesn’t mean we’re managing our stress in a way that will keep us happy and healthy in the long run. When working from home, it’s easy to overlook the importance of self-care for freelance writers.

While working remotely as a freelance writer can alleviate the stress of having to commute or be “on” socially in the workplace, it can also create opportunities to slip into unhealthy habits, isolation, and even overwork and depression.

Understanding the unique challenges associated with working at home can help you find ways to identify and manage stress while honouring your inner self. By taking gentle care of ourselves, we can remain grounded and steady even during uncertain times.

Remember: self-care is not selfish

We’ve collectively come through these past few years with a new awareness of what is truly important: friends, family, and community. Yet even with this fresh perspective, the practical side of living carries on—and earning an income is still a genuine need.

How to juggle work and the need for self-care?

Self-care is the foundation for everything else in our life, whether it’s work, family, friendships, creative pursuits, or community involvement. Those who pour out their energy into everything but their own well-being will eventually run on empty. This can lead to anxiety and depression, strained relationships with colleagues, clients, family and friends, and burnout.

If you feel disconnected from your own well-being, it’s time to stop, breathe, and create space for reflection. Regardless of deadlines and other demands on your energy, you yourself are a priority.

Schedule quality time for yourself

Time can either be your best friend or your greatest nemesis. Managing a workday at home includes all of the typical demands of an on-site job, only with the added challenge of being in your comfortable home environment with its many distractions. This can lead to either inertia or overwhelm.

Sometimes the best way to create focus and momentum is to schedule a “meeting” with yourself—yes, put it in your calendar! This can help you to disengage from too much screen time and relentless demands. During your scheduled meeting, take a quick walk around the block, breathing in the fresh air. Turn up the volume on an uplifting or soothing song. Visit the nearest café and enjoy a drink or a treat (or both!). Or, if you don’t want to leave your home because of weather or other constraints, go into another room and simply sit and breathe mindfully for five minutes.

Make time for creativity

Being a freelance writer involves using not only the creative side of the brain that drives a writer’s thoughts but also the analytical abilities that make an at-home business successful. When the stress of running your own business becomes overwhelming, there is nothing quite as potent as giving a creative brain free reign.

Maybe you have a secret passion for making still-life paintings or have a flair for capturing just the right image in a photo. Perhaps your creative outlet is dancing or being a magician. Or are you a DIY crafter with a spare room filled to the ceiling with every imaginable crafting element?

In whatever way you choose to do it, make regular time for your creative practice so you can fill up your own well. Even fifteen minutes a day can make a difference.

Healthy body, healthy mind

Studies show that stress can affect the body on every level. Elevated blood pressure can lead to coronary issues, headaches, and vision problems. Frustrations can impact overall mental health, focus, and drive. Feeling overwhelmed can even make getting restorative sleep impossible.

One of the most natural ways to combat stress is by taking consistent care of your body. Using tools to improve your health will bring long-lasting benefits but also will address your immediate need to cope with being a freelance writer during a global pandemic.

• Exercise: Because of the sedentary nature of working from home, being mindful of how much you deliberately move your body is an essential part of your overall stress management. 

• Eating nutritiously: As a freelance writer, you have access to everything in your home pantry, all day, every day. The only pitfall is you are the only one who can limit how often you eat. The good thing? Having absolute control over stocking your fridge with healthy food options (like fruits and vegetables) that fuel your body and feed your mind. 

• Get involved: There are plenty of ways that your talents and abilities can impact your community. Getting involved in a food pantry, homeless shelter, or even a religious organization that helps the less fortunate can help remind you that you are a valuable member of this world—and has been shown to have real health benefits.

• Stay connected: The isolation that came with the pandemic has made connection to other people a real challenge. Making deliberate efforts to text, call, video chat, or otherwise have real face-to-face time with your loved ones is critical. Stay connected—you won’t regret it. 

Don’t discount the need for talk therapy

The uncertainties of our times affect each one of us differently. Sometimes, a simple solution can make all of the difference in changing our stress levels. Environmental improvements, quality conversations, and healthy life changes can all improve our mental health abundantly.

If these solutions aren’t helping and you are one of the millions of people who simply cannot find a way to navigate the uncertainty and tension inherent in these times, know first and foremost that you are not alone. Reach out to a professional for guidance. Make an appointment for a therapy session (virtual or in person, whatever works best for you). Be honest with yourself and your loved ones about how you are feeling.

There is no shame in admitting you need the help of a therapist. Having someone to talk to who won’t judge or dismiss you is a healthy decision that is paramount to self-care.