This month’s guest blog is written by Johanna Cider, a freelance writer from New Zealand. I am delighted to share her specific self-care tips on the Diverse Minds website.

Why writers need to consider self-care

Many people try freelancing for a better quality of life. Work for yourself, cut out the commute and spend more time doing things you love.  However, in times of stress and high workloads, self-care is often overlooked. Implement certain techniques to help you take care of yourself when things get busy. Follow these six self-care tips.

1. Stay active

Your work may involve a lot of seated computer use. Muscles tighten from sitting for long periods. Take time out of your day to stretch out your tight muscles to relieve soreness, poor posture and promote blood flow. Start by stretching the muscles in your chest, neck, hip flexors and hamstrings.

Self-care isn’t just for your mental health. In fact, keeping active can be great for both physical health and mental clarity. Even a short walk could boost creativity. Research new walking trails to go on each week for an exciting variety of landscapes and views.

2. Set your work hours

A work-life balance is vital for a happy life. Freelancing may give you the freedom to create your own schedule. Discover what works best for your lifestyle and schedule your work hours around this. If you have children, you may find a split schedule works best. Work while they’re at school, then continue for an hour or two after their bedtime. If you’re a night owl, working from the afternoon onwards may be best for your productivity.

3. Implement a healthy diet

You only get out what you put in, so fuel your mind with food rich in nutrients and minerals. Remember how important it is to get your daily five portions of fruit and vegetables. Incorporate a variety into your meals. Foods high in sugar and fat are terrible for your productivity. You’ll start to feel sluggish and ill-focussed. Substitute the sugary, fatty snacks during work time for fruit, nuts and crackers.

As well as overeating, eating too little is also not great for your health and self-care. Freelancing can make you busier than you anticipated. Consider cooking an extra portion during dinner the night before, so that you can eat leftovers for lunch the next day.

4. Take regular breaks

Eye strain and fatigue are common symptoms of prolonged computer use. Eye strain may significantly affect your concentration and productivity levels. Luckily, eye strain resolves with rest.  Work can get stressful at times, especially when meeting tight deadlines. Giving yourself time for a break can be a hard feat. However, breaks provide you with time to rest your mind and reset. You’ll become more effective and efficient in your designated tasks. Take a break for a few seconds every 20 minutes. Every hour, get up and go for a short walk.

5. Optimise the time spent working

Create a healthy work environment. An environment that promotes a good work ethic will increase your efficiency and productivity. Spend less time working (or struggling to stay focussed), so you can focus on your self-care.  Set yourself up in an area with minimal distractions, both audio and visual. Have everything you need accessible, but only what you need. A smartphone next to your desk is a huge distraction. Turn your phone on silent or put it away while working.

6. Separate your work and leisure spaces

If you work from home, keep your work area separate. A lack of separation between the two will foster your mind to associate work with leisure time. In smaller spaces, separate the work and leisure spaces with a partition, different decor or a rug. Likewise, keep your work confined to your work space. Refrain from letting documents drift into the kitchen during your cooking or for bedtime reading.

Freelancers take control of their work. But, it’s also essential to take control of your self-care. Self-care can be both emotional and physical, so take the steps you need to work towards healthier habits for a happier work environment.

About Johanna

Johanna Cider - Self-Care tips for writers

Johanna Cider is a freelance writer living in the world’s coolest little capital – Wellington, New Zealand. She starts her day early, meditating and enjoying a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise. See more of her work on her website The Musings of Johanna and Tumblr.