The Feel-Good Freelancer

I don't know about you, but I generally feel pretty darn good being a freelancer. I get to set my hours, choose my projects, set my own rates, and... ouch... what's that pain in my neck? Must be from that two-hour phone conference craning my neck yesterday. And man... that headache! Must be from staring at a computer screen without a break for 10 hours. Yeah... the joys of freelancing have their own evil little counterparts. Fortunately, there are things we can do as freelancers to make sure we feel great physically too!

Prevent Back Pain

As a freelance writer, you probably spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or table - I know I do. If you don't have decent back support, you can find yourself with an awful bout of back pain (and that's one surefire way to find yourself grounded and in bed while getting better if it gets bad enough).

One thing you can do is buy an ergonomic chair. Personally though, I like my big padded office chair, and don't want to trade it for something else. I'm usually pretty good about my posture, but when I do feel the urge to slouch, I use a small lumbar cushion behind the arch in my back, and I find that helps immensely. Consider trying it if you slouch a lot while working. You can get one for about $10 (another great gift idea for freelance writers), so it won't break the bank to take better care of your back!

Stop Eye Strain

Whether you work at a desk or from bed on your laptop, you're likely spending a lot of your working time staring at a computer screen when you work as a writer. Because of that, you may also be straining your eyes (which can do more than affect your vision over time - it can give you terrible headaches!).

Luckily there are a few easy things you can do to protect your eyes:

  • Keep the height of your monitor around eye level (you shouldn't be looking significantly up or down to see the bulk of your screen).
  • Keep the monitor at about arm's length in front of you.
  • Adjust your brightness and contrast settings to something that works for you. I used to think brighter and higher contrast was better, only to strain my eyes more and realize some of my sites were screwed up design-wise, because I wasn't seeing the colors the same way other people were when I was doing the design work. Oops!
  • Give your eyes a break. In between articles or projects, take a break. Even if it's just for a minute or two, get up, walk around, and look at something else.
  • Look out your window - why your window? Because you can look out over the horizon. You've been focused on looking at something right in front of you. Your eyes need to occasionally adjust to looking out into the distance. Here's a great exercise for your eyes - stand by a window and choose five different things in your line of sight, at different distances. For example, in my case I might choose the window pane itself, then the tree a few yards outside my window, then a house across the street (which is a pretty good distance as I'm set back off the road), and then the wooded hill in the far distance. Let your eyes adjust to each thing one after the other back and forth for a while from nearest to farthest and back again.

In my experience, back and eye troubles are the most common problems with freelancing, but I know there are others. So here are a few other things you can do to keep yourself feeling great while writing:

  • Stay warm in the winter, and keep cool in the summer! It's hard to type when your fingers are freezing, and it's difficult to concentrate in the sweltering heat.
  • Take a short walk outside - get some natural light (assuming you don't at least work near a window) and get some fresh air.
  • Add some plants to your office space. They help to clean the air around you.
  • Drink plenty of water, and don't become too reliant on caffeine to get you through the day (you'll end up in a series of ups and downs between caffeinating and crashing).

What do you do to keep yourself healthier and feeling great while you work?

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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