How to Stay Healthy When: You’re Self-Employed

I want to trial a series on All Around Health, giving tailored health advice to people in specific situations. Health is a universal thing, but some advice feels like it doesn’t entirely apply to us. In this series, I want to tackle that by helping you through your health struggles, but specific to your needs as x, y, or z.

Today I want to talk about how to stay healthy when you’re self-employed. This covers anyone who feels they are entirely responsible for their daily income. As someone who falls into that category, I know first hand what comes with the territory. Whether you are a freelancer, or someone who owns their own business, I want to talk about ways that you can stay healthy.

Be the best boss for your favourite employee…

Being self-employed comes with many stressors. Lewin-Epstein & Yuchtman-Yaar (1991) point out that stressors, including generalised uncertainty and market fluctuations, lead to lifestyles and behaviours that are detrimental to people’s health. Although there may be higher job satisfaction amongst those self-employed, there is also a higher risk of mental health problems (Andersson, 2008).

Clearly something needs to be done about managing stress!

While some factors are certainly out of your control, there are many ways you can balance work priorities with your health and wellbeing needs. To do so, I recommend taking a step back. Look at your situation from the perspective of both a boss, and an employee…

As your own boss, you should allow yourself the breaks that you deserve in order to manage stress effectively. Give yourself proper compensation for your work, by taking time out to fuel your body with healthy meals, and to refresh your mind.

As an employee, don’t expect to work overtime if the only output is further stress. There are reasons for regulations on how many hours people can work, and you need to set boundaries with yourself on how many hours a day is worth your efforts. That may come in different forms depending on what your constraints and responsibilities are, but having that conversation with yourself will help set aside time for much needed rest.

Learn your limits…

People who are self-employed tend to report worse overall health, compared to those employed and earning a wage (Dolinsky & Caputo, 2003). If anything, evidence shows that engaging in self-employment can lead to unique barriers to living a healthier life (Rietveld, Kippersluis, Thurik, 2015).

As I said earlier, dealing with the stress that comes with freelance work or business management is a key factor to this. If you’re overly stressed, you are more likely to make poorer decisions, and to engage in behaviours damaging to your health. So how do we avoid this?

Like most things health-related, you have to know your limits. Balance is hard to obtain, but important to strive for. As someone self-employed, a work-life balance is very crucial to your health and wellbeing. While I commend anyone who lives that #hustle life, grinding away to the early hours of the morning, at the end of the day you ain’t going to be ballin’ if you’re not at your best!

Burnout is real and should be avoided!

Know when taking on more work is impacting your health, which no doubt will impact your quality of work. Have a good work-life balance. Delegate if you can. Be the best boss to yourself. Work hard, but don’t forget to look after yourself on that road to success.

What do you think? Are you someone self-employed and struggling to live healthily? How do you maintain yourself while working that hustle? Let me know in the comments below!

For the Psychologists…
Andersson, P. (2008). Happiness and health: Well-being among the self-employed. Journal of Socio-Economics, 37, 213-236.
Dolinsky, A. L. & Caputo, R. K. (2003). Health and Female Self-Employment. Journal of Small Business Management, 41(3), 233-241.
Lewin-Epstein, N. & Yuchtman-Yaar, E. (1991). Health Risks of Self-Employment. Work and Occupations, 18(3), 291-312.
Rietvald, C. A., van Kippersluis, H., & Thurik, A. (2015). Self-employment and Health: Barriers or Benefits?. Health Econ., 24(10), 1302-1313.

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