In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on women practicing self-care. If you've somehow managed to miss the memo, self-care means more than a glass of red wine at the end of the day and face masks. It means setting aside intentional time to focus energy and resources on yourself. As Audre Lorde, the writer, womanist, and activist, once said: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." And Lorde's quote still rings true in a culture where women often experience more stress than men, because we have a bad habit of trying to do it all.
One industry where stress and anxiety can run rampant is the freelance industry, especially for creative freelancers who are often tapped to churn out eye-catching work — yet frequently come up against unresponsive clients and low rates. As someone who just started freelance writing part-time, I can tell you that dealing with inconsistent payment processes or having a story pitch rejected can wear on your emotional and mental health. So somewhere between taking on projects and executing creative ideas, it essential that we make purposeful time for self-care.
Here are seven self-care tips for creative freelancers:
1. Create microdeadlines.
Most clients will give you a set deadline for a project; use their deadlines to set smaller ones for yourself. If you have a month to get a project done, set dates within that month to complete phases of the project. Set aside intentional times throughout the week to work, so that you aren't scrambling to finish something at the last minute.
2. Schedule time to do absolutely nothing.
You didn't misread that. As a freelancer it is easy to become obsessed with scheduling everything that we need to get done. Try penciing in blocks of time, maybe on nights and weekends ,to stop worrying about work and set aside time for the things that bring you joy; whether it's downing a whole pint of icecream or reading while pantsless.
3. Ask for help.
You're only human. If receiving an extension on an assignment is possible, be sure to ask for one.
4. Get outside.
If you work remotely, it can be easy to get too comfortable working from your bed or home office. Make sure to switch up your work environment from time to time, if possible. You may find inspiration by working in a new location or atmosphere.
5.Eat your vegetables.
My first day working from home as a freelancer, I forgot to eat until the end of the day. An empty belly is going to lead to low productivity, make sure to stick to some sort of regular meal schedule, preferably meals that feature at least one vegetable.
6. Say no.
Creative freelancers often live under constant fear that they aren't going to receive enough work to sustain a livelihood. Which sometimes means saying yes to every assignment that comes your way. But what's the point of stacking up freelance checks if your energy is drained or if you're not passionate about the work? Say no to things that don't nourish you.
7. Be realistic.
If you are a night owl, don't force yourself to start working at sunrise. It can be hard to be a self-starter when there isn't a traditional manager standing over your shoulders, so being able to create successfully, means being realistic about how and when you work best.
Tiffany Curtis is a Philly-based freelance writer, podcaster, and sex positivist whose work focuses on empowerment for women of color, race and culture, and sex positivity. She has written for sites like Blavity, Refinery29, and Hello Giggles.