You’re living the dream as a freelance writer: setting your own hours, getting in more quality time with your partner and kids, and being able to do work that you love. But, as good as it is, the drawbacks marketing writers face include more than short deadlines and self-imposed income goals. Have you noticed your favorite pair of jeans are a little tighter? Or do you think it’s time to visit the optometrist again? Here are five of the most common hazards–along with some tips to beat them–to a freelancer’s health:
Weight Gain – Sitting at your desk for hours at a time, having an endless supply of the beverage of your choice and the ability to snack without being seen by your colleagues is a blue ribbon recipe for weight gain. Make it a priority to fit in at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise to combat excess calories; take the dog for a walk, head to the gym after you drop the kids off at school or get up early and workout while the rest of the house is asleep. Don’t let your physical activity end there! Every time you step away from the computer, do a set of push-ups, crunches or jumping jacks.
Lack of Sleep – Despite your best intentions, life happens and work doesn’t always get finished during your scheduled work hours. All nighters may have gotten you through college, but they’re not going to be an asset to your writing career. In addition to not being able to catch errors, a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, impaired judgment and may lay the foundation for more serious health problems. Make it a priority to get at least six hours of sleep each night, and if need be, sneak in a 30-minute power nap after lunch.
Eye Problems – Computers and the Internet may have made it possible for you to work from home in your sweats, but they are also responsible your blurry vision, headaches, irritated eyes, and focusing problems. Limit your use of your computer to an hour or less and then take at least 10 minutes to sneak in some exercise, do some housework or anything that doesn’t strain your eyes.
Poor Posture – Hunching over a computer for hours a day is sure to make your posture suffer; sitting on a comfy sofa with your laptop is even worse. Avoid looking like you belong in retirement village and invest in an ergonomic chair. You could also opt for a stability ball since you’ll need to engage your core muscles by sitting erect, to keep from falling off the ball.
Sore Wrists and Arms – A real and very serious threat for those who spend hours a day clicking keys for cash. The repetitive motions affect your fingers, hands and wrists, resulting in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Worst case scenario is that you take six weeks off work to have corrective surgery, but who can afford a forced vacation like that? To keep your limbs limber, flex your fingers, stretch out your arms and rotate your wrists every time you step away from the computer.
By being aware of these health hazards, and taking proactive steps to combat them, you’ll be able enjoy the good life for many years to come.
Charlotte E is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.