I’m the first one to say that, as a freelance, if you’re not ready to work your ass off even when you feel down and to deliver work without finding excuses for the tiniest bump, you’re not made for this.
But the contrary is also true: you need to listen to your body, and understand when you’re pushing yourself too far, otherwise it’s a burnout.
So, I wanted to talk about those signs that tell you to slow down, even when work is piling up, even when deadlines are close…
YOU’RE SICK ALL THE TIME
That’s the most obvious. You’re just over an angina that you catch a cold (that’s me right now!), your immune system fails you, so take time to heal so you can come back on top!
YOU’RE ACHING EVERYWHERE
Your back gets blocked painfully, your muscles are all contracted and it’s not due to exercising, you’ve got headaches and various symptoms you never had: your body is telling you to STOP! An advil and to bed!
YOU’RE TIRED ALL THE TIME
A chronic fatigue that forbids you to work properly to the point that you’re taking a nose-dive into your keyboard (and no, if it comes from a night spent partying, it doesn’t count!) is not a good sign either. If it’s a one time thing, a little nap and you’ll be fine, but if you feel like that everyday, you need to rest.
YOU’RE OVERLY MOODY
Sometimes, your body refuses to show signs of fatigue, but your mood shows it, to the point that you become a grizzly. Go to bed early, a good night’s rest (or several!) in dreamland and you’ll come back as a Care Bear.
YOU’VE GOT TROUBLE FOCUSING AND MEMORIZING
Your brain can’t take it anymore, no wonder why you can’t remember anything and you’re disconnecting in the middle of a briefing with a client! Physical signs aren’t the only ones that should alarm you, your declining productivity is a very good indicator too.
YOU’RE WORKING TOO MUCH
Yes, in freelance, we work sometimes a lot, but when your work is taking your private life’s space, your sleep time’s space, your hobbies’ space, STOP!
YOU DRINK TOO MUCH COFFEE OR ABUSE SUBSTANCES
You can’t handle things without five cups of coffee a day? Why not as an intravenous injection, while you’re at it? If you need that to get through the day, you can imagine it’s not normal.
YOU FEEL WORTHLESS AND WANT TO CRY ALL THE TIME
The emotional ride is not a happy sign either. If you can’t control your tears anymore, if impostor syndrome turns into an ugly monster, it means it’s time to take care of yourself.
EVEN AT REST, YOU WORRY FOR WORK CONTINUOUSLY
Unhealthy attitude at its best because you don’t give yourself any rest: what should be calm moments turn into a whirlwind of negative thoughts, disproportionate worries and, in the end, you don’t recover at all, and you go back to work right after that totally drained by your mental processing.
YOU HAVE INSOMNIA
When sleep itself becomes impossible, it’s time to slow down for good, and for a good amount of time.
So yes, there are deadlines, work to do, not everything can wait. The best is to discuss it with your clients, who are most of the time very understanding (and you will realize that there’s often no emergency), to do what you can, but, most of all, to organize time off in advance, to allow yourself several days, if not weeks, in a row, so you can focus on what’s the most important: you, your health and your mental!
HAVE YOU EVER HAD ONE OR SEVERAL OF THOSE SYMPTOMS?