🍅 The Health Episode (+ my non-negotiables)
Ep. 84: Healthy habits for busy freelancers (with Sally Duffin)
How was your week? Mine has involved way too much time poring over finance spreadsheets and wondering just how many stupid questions my accountant Martin will tolerate before he blocks me.
(Answer: many, apparently. If you’re looking for an accountant, do check out his services.)
As business owners, we spend more time than we’d like thinking about our financial responsibilities. Paying our taxes, paying into pensions, paying into savings accounts. Investing in our business so it’ll grow. Investing in support or training to move a step closer to our goals. Investing profits to build a secure future for ourselves and our families.
But are we overlooking an important non-financial investment?
Paying into your “health” pension pot
Ever since I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in my early 20s, health has been major focus for me. It’s one of the reasons why I started my health copywriting business.
Even when an experience like this is firmly in the rearview mirror, you can never quite regain the navïety you once had about the fragility and unpredictability of your health.
You can’t take your health for granted.
(Those of you affected by chronic conditions understand this only too well, I know.)
That’s why I like to think of looking after myself as an investment. I make small, daily deposits into the Bank of Louise’s Health, so I can enjoy life today and hopefully increase my chances of weathering any future rainy days.
It’s also why, no matter how much I like saying YES when people ask for help, I’m pretty strict about holding the boundaries I’ve built to protect my health.
When I posted a teaser on LinkedIn about this week’s health episode, my friend Amanda Bourbonais mentioned that she takes a “Health First” approach to business: running every decision through an internal “how does this impact my health” filter.
Isn’t that great? She’s taken Mike Michalowicz’s Profit First approach and applied it to health.
I’d never thought of it like this before, but that’s what I try to do too.
Getting over the guilt of putting yourself first
Perhaps you feel guilty for taking time out of your day to go for a swim or hit the gym. Perhaps it’s easier to skip lunch and grab a packet of Monster Munch so you can send off that project sooner, instead of taking a proper break. The 9-5 indoctrination is real.
Look, you work hard! You’re no slacker. Who cares when you work, as long as your deadlines are met? You’re the boss, after all.
Building healthy habits into your day isn’t just a long-term investment in your wellbeing.
It’s good for business.
You’ll have more energy. You’ll do better work. You’ll enjoy your day!
Still, it can be tough, can’t it? When you’re juggling tasks, strapping in for back-to-back Zoom calls, and dodging the Wispa Golds that call to you from the kitchen (just me?), it can be hard to make time to look after your physical and mental health on the average work day.
That’s why I asked Sally Duffin to join me on the 15 Minute Freelancer podcast to talk about why it’s important for us solo biz owners to prioritise our health.
As a freelancer writer and nutritional therapist, Sally is well-placed to help us figure out what we can do to feel and perform at our best 👇
We pack a lot into this one, including:
🏊♂️ Tips for building healthy habits into your day
🍍 Eating for mental well-being
🧠 Small changes that have a big impact on stress
❤ How menopause can affect freelance life and Sally's advice on recognising and managing perimenopausal symptoms
Listen here »
My daily non-negotiables for health
In our conversation, Sally suggested picking a few small things you can do every day so you can check the box without feeling overwhelmed.
Forget what’s optimal – the optimal routine is the one you’ll stick to.
Make these your daily or weekly “non-negotiables”. They don’t have to be perfect, just enough to keep things ticking over. The bare minimum actions that boost your energy instead of draining it.
Here are the things I do each day that help me maintain my va-va-voom:
Protein and veg at every meal. It’s flexible, I don’t have to overthink it, and I know that if I aim for this, I’ll feel good.
I tend to have the same breakfasts and lunches most of the time – smoothies with protein powder, spinach and frozen berries for breakfast, and stir-fries or salads with chicken or fish for lunch. (That’s not all I have, obviously, but I don’t have to try very hard to eat enough carbs and fats 🥐)
Walking. I listen to podacsts, it clears my head, I find creative inspiration, I meet puppies… what’s not to like?
Strength training 4 times a week. I could write 10,000 words on why I love lifting. This pretty much sums it up: feeling strong is the best feeling and carries over into so many other areas of life. Try it and see!
Write my top 3 daily tasks the night before. This has been a great way to feel organised each day and avoid getting distracted by whatever pops into my inbox.
To hear more about how I use anchor actions to plan my week and daily tasks, you might like to check out episode 64.
These are just the things that work for me. Your preferences, needs, lifestyle will almost certainly be different. What are your daily non-negotiables? I’d love to know.
🌟 Bonus clip: Because we had so much to say on this topic, here’s a little extra that didn’t quite make it into the episode, on the importance of taking breaks, being disciplined about your non-negotiables and the power of prepping:
➡️ 15 Minute Action: Get up from your desk! Go for a walk, do some stretches, move a little, shake it out.
That’s all for today. How do you build healthy habits into your day? What's one thing you could commit to each day?
Until next time, happy freelancing!