The lucrative job of a freelancer, especially in computer programming and designing, could take a toll on your health. This is because it demands a lot of hours in a seated position, working your brain to meet client’s deadlines. When hunger strikes, you don’t have the luxury of settling for a sumptuous meal in the organic restaurant downtown, so you order junk, down it with soda and get back to the keyboard.
When you have a chance to relax, you remember a scheduled Skype meeting with a client, and as you wipe your sweat, the family reminds you how long ago it’s been since you created time for them. Stress continues to build, and soon you could be in for a serious medical condition.
This is the typical lifestyle of an average coder or designer. The job itself is not to blame; it’s how you do it that’s the issue. You should use a personal planner that balances work and a healthy you. Jeremy M Williams, the Co-founder & Chief Code Architect at Vyudu Inc. has seen the better of the two lives. He was able to manage his health by going to the gym and personal training, until coding responsibilities - coupled with the demands of raising a young family - got the better of him. Today he complains of a stiff neck, back pain and he still has to commit long hours to meet deadlines.
But Jeremy has shown willingness to get back in form. To help him and those like him, here are nine steps that could help bring your health back, or maintain it before it’s too late.
Find & Download the Right App
You'll find various apps suitable to help you achieve work-health balance. Jeremy found an app that reminds him to reward himself after accomplishing goals. For example, by walking, cycling or running, you could set a fee you earn every time you accomplish these tasks. He recommends the use of the app qapital or the Moves or better still, both.
Look for an app that can work for you, or try Jeremy’s choice.
Remember, what you are earning here is not an extra income from a different source. It’s your savings approached, to help you save even more.
You can check on various healthy apps from this article compiled by healthline.com
Sit Less and Stand More
If you look at our body structure, we were not created to sit for long. There’s a reason we are upright. Sitting for long periods of time could lead to illness like kidney disease, coupled with other lifestyle factors. Find a motivation to have breaks where you can stand up. William has taken his daughter’s love for dancing, and used it to his advantage. They dance together every time he takes a break during the day.
Coders sit for long periods of time, and have poor posture which causes back pain. Even after investing in ergonomic chairs, people are still accustomed to sitting badly. Some years back, this problem was only associated with the elderly, but the number of young people with back problems these days is alarming.
There’s the right posture for sitting, and you should make an effort to get used to it. Apart from that, there are standing desks which you can buy, and they are a favorite to some programmers nowadays. And guess what? They are not expensive either. Apart from keeping back pains at bay, you’ll also burn a few calories by working while standing. So buy a standing desk, and gradually introduce yourself to it.
You can go further and start using a treadmill desk. Here, you will burn more calories as your metabolism runs a bit higher while breaking the monotony of a seated position.
Go For a Walk
“Disconnect with the web and reconnect with the world,” as William says. You can take a 30-minutes’ walk to the shop, or for a bite. Clear your mind by listening to music as you take a stroll around the neighborhood. Go for a nature walk around the parks, or take your dog out. You can’t lack a reason for walking, or a place for it. William admits that by walking his back pain gets relieved.
Drink Lots of Water and Eat Clean
Cut your junk intake and go for healthy home-made meals. We are what we eat, and sometimes it does not require a lot of effort to achieve that. You can enlist the help of your partner to improve on what you eat, by drawing up a healthy menu together. Drink a lot of water - it improves your skin, and boosts the immune system. Cut down on carbonated and caffeine-rich drinks. Spoil yourself occasionally, but cut junk by about 80%.
When was the last time you took a deserving vacation? Taking a vacation gives the body time to rejuvenate. Just like the way we take our car for service after a certain mileage, so should we for our bodies- it’ll help regain lost energy, refocus our minds and improve our efficiency. We need that vacation. You become smarter by taking a vacation. As a coder, the internet is everywhere you go, and you can work from any place you like. Vacations are therapeutic; you meet new people, new cultures, new cuisines. Make a point of taking a break, and traveling to places you’ve never been.
Getting enough rest has been recommended by medics since the last century. The brain needs to relax for the electrons to function properly, and improve your problem-solving skills. Yes, I know you need to grind late nights in your quest to meet last-minute deadlines, but this should not be a daily occurrence. This is how it works: balance your sleeping and coding time by choosing days to sleep early and waking up early, or vice versa depending on your type. Create extra sleeping time by shunning the TV, sleep tight, code more, and generate more income.
Research has shown that getting enough sleep improves our immune system, enhances our memory and boosts our focus during the day - exactly what a coder needs.
We have become so accustomed to our smartphones and smartwatches that we feel empty when not using them. We no longer have a life outside of these gadgets, but this is where we are getting it wrong. Correct that by disconnecting from technology, and focus on your inner being.
Take off all your gadgets, and venture out. You may choose to head to the park for a nature walk, or to some other leisure and recreation activities. You don’t know how much your mind will thank you. Enjoy the peace of knowing nobody can interrupt you, tell yourself that this is your time. Make it a habit of repeating this once in awhile; it could be daily for 15 minutes every week, or weekend.
Keep Your Happy Thoughts
Positive emotions have a lot of beneficial effects. First, there's a link between our ability to process information, and better brain health over a long time. People who have positive emotions are 60 % less likely to get ill, according to a study done in 2007. Therefore, to remain healthy as you code, eject your negative thinking and load a feel-good memory instead. Every time you feel yourself heading towards negative emotions, stop right there, and focus on something else. You’ll see how positivity can help you code your way to a healthy, better you.
Your health should be your number one priority, even when the fast-paced world demands a lot of you. So take charge by following the outlined tips. You’ll be amazed to see that the more you take care of yourself, the more productive you’ll become.
Has coding taken a toll on your health? We would appreciate if you could tell other freelancers how you are able to balance work and health. Use the comment section below!