When our world is spinning, seemingly out of control, freelancers can many times struggle to regain our footing. Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone, from the band Extreme, used to sing “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” as if the world was a merry-go-round and if we could just “disconnect” and “get off the ride” we could regain our footing. But as a freelancer, we may not be able to get off since we have to find a way to put food on our table or pay our rent/mortgage.
During these times of turbulence, feeling completely drained from balancing work, family, and friends, we must remember that we are all human BE-ings and not human DO-ings. A friend of mine told me that “purpose becomes lost when we only focus on doing without being.” So in times of stress and struggle, I would encourage you to consider a few of these steps to help regain your footing and balance.
Return to Center
Before you begin anything in the day, before you check your phone’s messages, before you make your breakfast, before you feed your kids and dogs… sit with yourself for 5 minutes. You can use that time to meditate, to visualize a positive day, to only focus on breathing in and out. If you feel your life is so busy that you’ll never be able to do this. Tonight, set your alarm for 5 minutes earlier. Now you have made time for yourself! If we value something, we make time for that thing. And by making a conscious effort to make time, to carve out time no matter how hard for yourself, helps bring value to yourself. This is one of the first steps everyone can take to regain their footing and center themselves.
Fuel is Important
The food we take into our bodies can directly affect how our bodies and minds respond to situations that arise in our life and work. Making a healthy commitment to ourselves to focus more on whole and unprocessed foods can not only increase our vitality levels but also provide a more positive mindset as we go through our day. In fact, Harvard released a study on nutritional psychiatry, and the effect food has on our brains. Being mindful of how we fuel our bodies can enable us to approach the world more efficiently, positively, and energetically.
Any freelancer/business owner can tell you that there are times where sleep is sacrificed to meet a deadline or to provide a solution to an unexpected speed bump. But it is widely understood that to perform optimally during the day our bodies need to adequately recharge during the night. We also live in a “tech world” and therefore technology is all around us, even when we attempt to sleep. There have been numerous studies on how “blue LED lights” have an adverse effect on achieving optimal sleep. So maybe it’s time we considered a different “bedtime routine”:
- Consider taking a warm shower before bedtime.
- Turning off your devices and reading a book for 30 minutes before bed. (NOT an iPad or device). This allows your brain to also disconnect from all the stimuli and focus on one thing.
- Dim the lights in your area to indicate to your body that it is time to rest.
Most people would say we are an “over-scheduled” people. I know middle school students who have to pull out a planner to see if they have time to play in the park with friends because they may need to schedule it for a later date. When I was trekking through the bush in Kenya many years ago, a Kenyan friend of mine said that he never wore a watch because it was a handcuff that would shackle him. And while we probably can’t get away from our schedule, we can organize. There are many tips freelancers, and business owners can use to help better organize (that don’t require a complete management system).
- Before you end your day at your “desk.” Clear it all away. (File it… don’t just stack it in a box.) Leave a single note in front of your chair with the one or two things you want to get accomplished tomorrow.
- Plan out our meals and wardrobe for the week. If you can remove the requirement to “make choices” for little things like food and clothing, your brain will thank you, and you will be less stressed about “making decisions.”
- Have a “notes” system that works for you. When something pops into your brain, write it down, record it, do something to get it OUT of your brain, so it doesn’t interrupt the task you are doing at that time. By releasing the thought, it won’t take up space while you are trying to finish a task and will lead to less frustration of feeling like you can never finish.
Honest with Ourselves
During those times when we feel the world is completely upside down, people often over-exaggerate and begin telling everyone about how we never have enough time. When we live in a constant state of “not enough time” we can mentally psyche ourselves out and place mental blocks in front of being able to accomplish tasks. Honesty and being real about our situations will allow us to plan, focus, break a project down into manageable tasks. Being honest also will give us the freedom to reach out and seek help from others. Because as a freelancer, you are not alone.
So during times of stress, frustration, times when you want to “stop the world and get off,” these five steps can help bring focus, balance, peace, and centeredness as you begin to integrate the state of BE-ing and not just DO-ing.
I’d love to hear if you have other steps you take when things feel like they are getting out of control.