As a freelance writer or small business owner, do you know what your most important asset is?
If you think it’s your website, a piece of equipment, or a product that you sell–you’re wrong.
For all small business owners, your most important asset is your health. Here’s why. If don’t feel well enough to work, your business suffers. If you get sick too often, your business could even go under.
In this post, which wraps up the series I began with How to Get More Done and Earn More $$, I’ll talk about some simple steps you can take to protect your health.
Note: I am not a doctor or a medical professional. If you don’t feel well, check with a medical professional for advice on your specific situation.
There are some things about your health that you can’t control.
Every day we are exposed to bacteria and viruses that we can’t even see. They are in the air we breathe, on the surfaces we touch, and even in the food we eat. Fortunately, most of the time those germs pass through our bodies without harming us.
We also have no control over our heredity. It’s well known that some health problems pass through families. You could have one of those conditions through no fault of your own.
Rather than focusing on what we can’t do to protect our health, it’s better to focus on what we can do. Four of those areas that we can do something about include:
Let’s look at each of these areas separately.
Hygiene, Stay Clean
Okay, I almost didn’t include this one on my list. After all, we’re all adults, right? We know the importance of cleanliness, or at least we should.
But then I remembered the stereotype of the hygienically challenged, hermit-like freelancer who never leaves home. While I don’t believe that stereotype applies to most freelancers, I realized there may be some who try to take shortcuts in this area. For them, there’s one word–don’t.
Here are three areas of hygiene most likely to be skipped:
- Oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth is important. Neglecting your teeth could lead to painful and expensive dental work. A few years ago I was surprised to learn that poor oral hygiene is linked to other (scary) healthy problems. Those problems include: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, nutrition problems, and more. (Read the fact sheet from WomensHealth.gov for more details.
- Washing. Did you skip your shower today? If you did, you may be giving some of those germs we all come into contact with daily an extra chance to affect you. Around our house I’m known for thoroughly washing my hands often, especially before I eat. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m also usually the last person in the house to get sick.
- Food. Spoiled food can also make you sick. That’s why I don’t like to leave dirty dishes lying around. I also check the food in the refrigerator and pantry and discard anything that appears to be spoiled. If you’ve had food poisoning, even once, you’ll want to do the same.
Of course, good hygiene is not the only way to stay healthy.
Exercise, Get Moving
We’ve all read about how important exercise is for good health. We’ve also read about the dangers of sitting in one place all day.
As writers, we may feel that we have to sit for long periods of time. But there are alternatives. Even a busy writer can schedule time into the day for exercise.
Personally, I ride my exercise bike for 45 minutes a day, four to five days a week. When it was cooler I also walked in the local park, and I’ll start that up again when the weather cools down.
Exercise does make a difference in how you feel, but so does what you eat.
Diet, Eat Right
There’s a stereotype about freelancers being surrounded by junk food. I think it’s sometimes true. There probably are some freelancers who rely on empty calories and processed foods.
While I never relied totally on junk food, I did rely too heavily on processed food. And my health was starting to suffer. Over the 14 years that I’ve been a freelancer, I gained nearly 100 pounds. (Yikes!).
For the past year and a half, I’ve been working hard at reversing that trend. As of the date of this post, I’ve taken off over 80 of those 100 pounds.
How did I lose the weight? I use the old fashioned method–I count calories and I’m careful about what I eat. Here are some specific tools that helped me:
- LoseIt! app. This app calculates the amount of calories you can eat each day if you want to lose (or maintain) weight. There’s also a place for you to log your daily meals.
- Jawbone Up. I’m not a hardcore Jawbone user, but I got this for Christmas last year. It does a good job of showing you just how active (or inactive) you are.
- Bountiful Baskets. We joined a food co-op in our area. For just $15.00 I can get six vegetables and six fruits. It’s a healthy bargain and also a good way to meet people.
- Eat This, Not That! If you’re going to dine out, this site can help you find the healthy options and avoid the unhealthy menu choices. Even healthy-sounding dishes can be a disaster.
The weight loss took time, but I definitely feel better. I also have more energy now. Best of all, I feel more confident when I have to meet people.
Sleep More, Stress Less
I hate to hear about freelance writers staying up late to meet a deadline. I also cringe when I hear about writers who work sixty or seventy hours a week, six or seven days a week.
That kind of a pace is unhealthy. I think sometimes freelancers feel that they have to work like that because they are trapped in low paying gigs. They don’t know how to find anything better. Getting writers out of that trap is one of the reasons I co-authored The Step-by-Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success (Sales page) with Carol Tice.
Not getting enough sleep is one of those tricky health problems, because it can sneak up on you. You may think you can handle less sleep, but before you know it you’re stressed out and exhausted. Don’t let this happen to you.
What steps do you take to protect your number one business asset–you?
Share your thoughts in the comments.