Self-care for freelancers and other humans
“What do you do to release stress?” A fairly innocuous question but when a wise woman I briefly worked with asked this, I was completely dumbstruck. After a lengthy pause, I answered, “Drink?”, with a maniacal laugh, realizing as I said it, how sad it sounded.
At the time, I was more stressed than I have ever been in my life. My reflux had reflux. A non-existent work-life balance in a business that expected nothing more than my every waking hour. Packing up my entire life to begin a new one in another country. It was a tough time. I was not coping.
But in the midst of all that noise, this little question stared at me with dead eyes like a ghost child in a horror movie. And suddenly the word, ‘self-care’ - something that had always seemed so frivolous up to this point, something I never dared consider – crept into my mind. Still, the idea of stopping for a moment to consider my own wellbeing, to listen to my body and my heart? Quite frankly, I didn’t have the time or patience. But, as my physical and mental health continued its swift decline, I knew I had no choice but to try something.
Luckily for me the colleague who posed this life-altering question is actually a gifted kinesiologist and asked if I would consider coming in for some treatment. I love trying new things, so I instantly accepted despite not having a clue what kinesiology was. It’s a strange experience having someone chat to your body – as if your mind/ rest of you is a altogether uninvolved – alternately tapping, yanking, stretching, massaging and prodding you with some odd reactions. I enjoyed the treatment but didn’t really know what to expect afterwards. I noticed some minor improvements in my physical health, but over time, I became aware of a deeper shift. Cracks began to appear. I know now that it was me finally starting to see a path through the insanity.
Next, I visited a very kind and intuitive homeopath who gave me the greatest gift any healthcare provider can give – empathy. You may not believe in homeopathic medicines, but I can promise that a homeopath will always listen to your whole story and consider your entire body, mind and emotional state when diagnosing you. And for people with chronic health issues that are very often overlooked by doctors, this is life-changing.
Immediately after these treatments I started to feel a little stronger and more relaxed.
It was around that time I came across a book in a bookstore that caught my eye. I have never been a reader of non-fiction. My creative brain craves stories and I devour novels like good cheese. But something about this bright yellow book cover and the words on it stopped me in my tracks. “You are a badass” it said. “Perhaps,” I thought to myself. “It’s possible that there is a badass somewhere inside me.” And I bought this oddly-named self-help book by an author I had never heard of.
What I found was a voice that spoke to me in a way that made all the most complex and painful shit in the world finally make sense to me. A voice that made me laugh and cry and shout ‘yaaassss!’ (inside). And this little yellow book became my bridge into the world of self-care and development, teaching me exactly how to invest in my own health and wellbeing.
Since then I have discovered many simple ways to care for myself, to nurture the parts of me that need love and yes…to release stress!!
As a freelancer, these skills are especially helpful. You spend many hours alone and self-doubt and stress can easily creep into that quiet space. Sometimes the simplest (and often the silliest) practices can help you find your grounding again. But that silence in solitude can be great too. If you have the space to listen really closely to yourself, you really can hear exactly what you need, whether it’s more water, a good cry or a pizza.
Self-care comes in many forms and I encourage you to find yours. You don’t need to be ‘Om’ing on top of a mountain or drinking kale smoothies. You could just stop in the middle of your day and dance to your favourite song. You could prioritise pleasure in your day or indulge in a decadent lunch. You could spend a whole night dedicated to pampering yourself. The key is to listen to what you need and then allow yourself to experience it wholly without judgement. This part takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, you can become your own BFF.
BTW, if you’re interested in Kinesiology (and are in Durban), consider going to Kinesiolign and talking to Stacey.