I’m a happy freelancer and digital nomad who would make the same choice a hundred times again if necessary, no matter what.
Yet, there’s a set of habits in the life of any freelancer (be it graphics designers, bloggers, translators etc.) that really jeopardize some aspects of life and mainly the body, first of all the quality of your sleep.
Even those who sleep like logs (and I’m not one of them) have to pay attention to the quality of their sleep that is often threatened by
- the compulsive use of mobile phones until shortly before falling asleep (I got this)
- the confidence that our mobile and e-mail will always be the first thing we’ll see when we wake up in the morning (I got this)
- jet lag, at best (I got this)
- Business trips (that might even be a worndeful thing but they really mess up your circadian rhythms as well as your sleep) (I got this)
- Performance anxiety (well…I got this too)
I’m sure that you got them too if you are a freelancer…and I’m pretty sure that you’ve got them all even if you work as an employee.
Let me add that everybody thinks freelancers can work whenever and wherever they want, yet they actually work when they have to and wherever they can.
Sometimes they have the chance to work in wonderful places, as it happened to me a couple of days ago at the Vivosa Apulia Resort, that I was actually visiting with the legendary Lazy Trotter; well, I also had to work on some quite difficult translations and found the time to do it, which is a good thing. At other times, freelancers can even work in a car while attending the funeral of a relative (…well, ehm, got this too).
I have to say that the two days I spent at the Vivosa Apulia Resort have taught me a lot about what to do to let the body feel better and rest as it should. (Get more info about the wellness services of this resort, where you can learn how to take care of yourself all year long, by reading this post by Cristina Buonerba).
Let’s now get to the point and the reason why I’ve come to this: what did I learn about sleeping patterns and how to get a good quality sleep, to prevent feeling stressed and possibly work (and live) better?
Let’s forget the idea of having to work anytime!
Let’s start from what’s really difficult, at least for me.
A freelancer often works for foreign customers too, located in different time zones, so it’s as if part of our brain is always awake, ready to catch information.
Let’s set some rules! (I’m talking to you too, who work in an office and yet the first thing you do in the morning is checking your work mails! – I see you!)
It’s definitely better to schedule your activity periods and the moments when we have to do something else. The decision has to be based on our circadian rhythms and not on market rules. The work and success of a freelancer depends on his/her performance, so if we work better in the morning or early afternoon, let’s try and concentrate the most difficult tasks at that time of the day.
Mind the cortisol!
During a wellness ritual, a special massage dedicated to sleep care that I was given for free by the lovely staff of the Vivosa resort, I’ve learnt something really important: after 5 pm, the level of cortisol (namely the stress hormone) is extremely high and you gotta do your best to reduce it. This will help preparing the body to gradually get a better sleep and even feeling generally healthier.
How to reduce cortisol?
- 1 . take long walks (possibly in green areas).
You have to get accustomed to walking. I believe running and sports in general are really overrated (but it is just my opinion). We are walking animals, let’s walk then.
Besides giving us the chance to exercise and relax our mind, being outdoors also contributes to the production of vitamin D that we all lack and which helps us in so many aspects of our lives.
- Small wellness rituals.
I’ve had the honor to try for the first time the ritual called Tranquillity, based on scientific studies and offered by Comfort Zone.
It’s basically a very soft massage, made of light touches and a mixture of smells (a specially designed relaxing blend), sounds (with a music expressly tailored by composers to produce a soothing effect) and by alternating different degrees of heat on the skin through tissues and oils.
The ritual reduces cortisol by 46%, with a 40% increase in the DHEA and a 68% increase in melatonin after just 3 sessions.
Even yoga is really useful to adjust the circadian rhythms and improve sleep.
In case we couldn’t enjoy these rituals guided by professionals, let’s look for the personal rites and actions that help us feel better.
In my case, lying with my feet and back on the grass or sand has always been one way to feel well.
It immediately makes me feel safe and calm, as if nothing bad could happen. Is there something that makes you feel the same way? Think about it and turn it into a ritual.
I am also particularly fond of lavender due to my personal history: its smell reminds me of the moment I was born free and safe in my body. I actually know that the lavender has a soothing effect on everybody, so if you don’t have the chance to walk along a field of purple flowers in their drying stage, try to get some lavender oil and pour a few drops on your wrists before going to bed.
This technique is taught to people who study singing, acting, who practice yoga and in many other subject.
I don’t even remember when I learnt how to do it, but I recently found out that a couple of minutes of deep diaphragmatic breathing reduce the level of anxiety and help falling asleep faster. (if only I had known this when I had to use Xanax instead…)
Less alcohol in the evening
Well, those who know me are well aware of how difficult it is for me to realize that alcohol has to be reduced in the evening. But I love myself and this little body of mine that has always been protecting me from my young foolishness.
The liver has to rest during the night in order to carry out the many tasks it was designed for (not only digesting beer, contrary to what I thought).
What are your sleeping patterns? Do you think you rest well? What method do you use or would like to use to improve this aspect of your life, which is as important as eating habits and maybe more?