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Become a Happy ‘Work At Home’ Freelancer

Updated on May 07, 2014
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The work model "home office"

Do you work at home and you just don’t know how to organize your day? You love working in pyjamas and getting up at whatever time you want, eating whenever you are hungry and staying awake with the help of coffee or caffeine pills?

We don’t know a lot about the effects of working at home because the work model "home office" has only become slightly more popular in the last few years. For decades, the individuals working in an office among us have gotten up between 6 and 7, started work between 8 and 9 and finished their day between 4 and 5. We have breakfast at home, lunch at the office and dinner at home with our families. What happens if all of a sudden we are obliged to work from home? Great, most of us think, my dream has become reality; this is what I always wanted.

But be careful, what seems like paradise might soon turn into a nightmare. Suddenly you don’t have to set your alarm clock anymore, you determine your working hours and it feels like you have all day to start working.

1) Dress appropriately

Get out of your pyjamas and dress appropriately, just as if you were to leave to go to the office. The first couple of days or even weeks it might be a great feeling wearing your PJs or a sweat suit while working but you are setting yourself a trap. Pretty soon you will forget to brush your hair, stop wearing makeup or forget to shave and just run around in the same clothing day and night. It sounds absurd but it will happen if you don’t control your habits.

2) Set yourself fixed working hours

Don’t start working at a different time every day. You can make exceptions but these kinds of exceptions should not become the rule. You will lose your rhythm and be more stressed than before. Why more stressed? Well think about it this way. Our body gets used to getting up at a certain time so if you get up at 9am on one day and at 2pm on the other day, your body will become confused. Apart from that, our body will neither be able to produce sufficient amounts of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is stimulated by outdoor light and is significantly responsible for our health and well-being, nor will it be capable of synthesizing enough melatonin, a hormone that is produced at night through which you become inactive and tired. These two hormones have a great influence on our mood and energy levels and if their production and hence our day-night cycle is disrupted or changed frequently, the risk for feeling depressive symptoms rises.

3) Don’t forget your social life

When you work at home, you will be communicating non-stop by email, through social networks, via Skype or other instant messaging tools. Don’t forget to pick up the phone to talk to your friends and colleagues. It can become unbearable if you don’t hear a human voice all day long and the beeping noises of your instant messaging tools will soon haunt you in your sleep.

4) Spend time outside

Spend at least 30 minutes outside in daylight. Don’t lock yourself inside and make your computer become your best friend. The world is happening outside and sunlight should be your best friend. Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin and thus leads to happiness. 2 hours a day is the dosage required for your body to produce sufficient amounts of serotonin to get you through the winter. In the winter, when there is a lack of sunlight, your body produces less serotonin which is why many people feel depressive symptoms in the winter. So don’t forget to spend some quality time outside.

5) Avoid artificial light at night

Try to avoid using your computer at night. The artificial light will hinder your body’s production of melatonin and will disrupt your sleeping and waking cycle. According to scientific studies, using artificial light at night, such as by watching television and using the computer can lead to depressions; and all of that because you are confusing your sleeping hormone. If you are receiving work late at night and if you are not pushed by a strict deadline, leave your job until the next day. You will feel energized by new serotonin being produced, triggered by sunlight, and you will be more concentrated, deliver better results and work more efficiently.

6) Remain physically active

Don’t forget to remain physically active. Physical activities will have several benefits for freelancers. As freelancers, we are often condemned to sitting in front of our screens all day long. This makes it more difficult to manage our weight and our health. It also reduces the risks of high blood pressure by boosting high-density lipoprotein and decreasing unhealthy triglycerides. Your blood is able to move more smoothly and the risk of cardiovascular diseases can be lowered. And here we come across serotonin again. There is a connection between serotonin and physical activities. For one thing, exercise increases the rate and frequency at which serotonin is synthesized and produced. Secondly, the level of tryptophan which is an amino acid that produces serotonin is increased. Practice your favorite outdoor sports or just put on your roller blades and skate around a bit while you recharge your batteries and stock up on serotonin.

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7) Watch your nutrition

Eat healthy, regularly and at fixed times during the day. Most of all, pay attention to the kinds of foods you eat. There are certain kinds of foods that trigger the production of serotonin such as foods high in B-vitamins (eggs, brown rice, chicken, corn, green leaves, legumes, peas, sunflower seeds and nuts), calcium (green leafs, almonds and cruciferous vegetables, fish with bones, tofu and sesame seeds), magnesium (green leafs, brown rice, sesame seeds, shrimp, salmon) and tryptophan (turkey, peanuts, soy foods, almonds). The Omega 3’s are fatty acids necessary for serotonin production. These can be found in fish oils such as in mackerel, salmon, sardine and tuna. Omega 6’s is equally important. These are contained in chicken, eggs, sunflower oil and turkey.

8) Reduce your stress

Reduce your stress. If you experience stress on a long-term basis, your serotonin levels will be depleted and you will find yourself with a lack of the “happiness”-hormone. Stress on a short-term basis actually increases serotonin but if this happens too much, you risk of experiencing the burn-out syndrome and it will be extremely difficult for your body to produce sufficient serotonin levels. Try to listen to relaxing music. It will soothe your mind, calm your nerves and take your mind off of troubling thoughts. When your mind starts relaxing, this relaxation will go over to other parts of the body. It was found that a continuous rhythm of 60 BPM has a relaxing effect on your body as your heart rate will harmonize with the music’s rhythm. Low bass tones and a low whooshing sound with a trance-like feature make you reach a deep state of tranquility. Scientists found the most relaxing tunes to be:

1. Marconi Union – Weightless
2. Airstream – Electra
3. DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)
4. Enya – Watermark
5. Coldplay – Strawberry Swing
6. Barcelona – Please Don’t Go
7. All Saints – Pure Shores
8. AdelevSomeone Like You
9. Mozart – Canzonetta Sull’aria
10. Cafe Del Mar – We Can Fly

9) Avoid stimulants

Don’t take stimulants because they reduce your serotonin levels significantly. Avoid coffee or pills containing caffeine, refined carbohydrates, chocolate with a high quantity of sugar (dark chocolate was discovered to have positive effects on your heart), alcohol, drugs and cigarettes or any other form of tobacco.

Try following this advice and you will see your serotonin levels soaring up. Your mood will change for the better and you will have energy in ways never seen before. Teach your co-workers and supervisors the importance of organizing their day working from home and the magic of serotonin and they will soon become much more pleasant to work with too.

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    • Cmbeverly profile image

      Cmbeverly 5 years ago from Delaware, OH

      My goodness this hub is amazing. It made me realize I need to re-evaluate 70 to 80% of my work from home habits lol. Great Hub!

    • BizGenGirl profile image

      Bema Self 5 years ago from Seattle

      I had to give this hub full marks! Amazing work!

      I might also add "No one has ever become a millionare by getting up at noon!"

    • Jennifer Wright profile image

      Jennifer Kaspar-Wright 4 years ago from Washington

      This is just what I needed to read right now! Recently I was laid off at work, so I have been sitting at my computer for about 3 weeks now plugging away with applications. The last couple of days I have been thinking "when was the last time I went out side? or put on real cloths?" I do try to have a routine, so when I do get a job my body will not be in shock! Thank you for posting this hub!!

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 3 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Sound and comprehensive information. I am voting up and sharing this.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I'm glad to know about the interference of television and computer use before bedtime. Very good suggestions and most helpful!

    • aylsbillones profile image

      Aileen Billones 3 years ago from Naga City, Philippines

      Thanks for this hub, Im also working at home, and there are lot of points that you mentioned which I really need to look into. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jennifer Madison profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Madison 3 years ago from Lohmar

      I am glad I could help! I think most of those working at home are confronted with these problems. But I have to admit I don't follow them strictly either. I wish I could but it just requires a lot of self-control. However, I have managed to have a more balanced life. I started by reducing my work availabilities and integrating one free day per week into my schedule. I take 3 walks per day with my dogs which is how I get enough serotonine and am physically active. I still have to work on the nutrition part but I am planning on getting some help from my fellow hubbers here.:)

    • profile image

      Mollyann Talbot 3 years ago

      Thank you, Jennifer! (Madison)

      What great tips to put into practice. I was a Realtor for 10 years and during that period followed a strict schedule of drinking a glass of water upon rising in the morning, 20 minutes of stretching or Pilates then a brisk power walk of up to four miles. Breakfast was a combination of fruit in the form of a huge blended smoothie, then a filtered shower (Aquasana), and off to work listening to relaxing music (usually smoothe Jazz -Norman Brown - or Classical). My days were filled with energy and smiles, my brain worked like a well-oiled machine and my body was in top shape.

      Lunch and dinner consisted of a pretty close version of Harvey and Marilyn Diamond's FIT FOR LIFE 'Principles for Proper Food Combining'. I ate "organic" as much as possible (swore by Whole Foods), ate only fruit after 8pm , stretched before bedtime and hit the hay at 10pm or so. It was thrilling being slim n trim, wearing my fav cute "little" clothes and having energy through the roof!

      Then...a life change. I moved to another state 4 years ago and completely stopped my routine overnight. I had inherited my mom's house including her cluttered world. Ugh, out of my environment, away from my friends and from the conveniences of the big city (now rural USA). Everything slowed down to a stop. I've worked here n there but with a savings I chose not to work full time and just 'semi-retire', so to speak. No routine, sleep in, stay up late, isolated with the Smart phone as my companion, and I change the sheets/do laundry "every 6 wks if I need to or not".

      Yikes! I can't believe how quickly I've aged in four years. My hormones are completely imbalanced. The first year I gained weight, then my skin started thinning and wrinkling, hot flashes kicked in and my energy level plummeted. Now, in full blown menopause, I have had to ignore all the cute little size 2-4's filling space in my closet reminding me of fitter days.

      That is, until today! You've inspired me my dear. I'm ready to get back on track and out in the sunshine. Everything you wrote about is absolutely true. Been there and it works!

      I love teaching people and I love working from home so I made the decision to teach English online. By researching that subject I found your Hub page. Thank you!

      I surely hope you have found a nutrition resource for yourself. I still shop at Whole Foods although not daily as before. (Its an hour and 45 min away!) I still eat fruit smoothies for breakfast and properly combine most meals which has kept my weight btwn 125 and 130. (Used to be 112) The areas I'm lacking in are exercise and a balanced sleep routine. So ready to get my groove back!

      Thank you again for your enlightening, very well-written article, with references!

      Truly, All the Best to you.

      Sincerely,

      Molly Talbot

    • Jennifer Madison profile image
      Author

      Jennifer Madison 3 years ago from Lohmar

      Dear Molly,

      Wow it was amazing to read about your experience. It is very hard to keep up such a strict routine and I definitely was never as disciplined as you described yourself but it sure gave me the motivation to try to be! :)

      I am glad my hub helped you and I am sure you can make it back to your old routine! I think when you change something about life only the beginning is hard. For me, getting up in the morning and having to walk my dogs has become totally natural to me and I like walking them because it makes them happy and they need it plus it's good for me too. And I think once you get used to something, your body will even ask for it!

      I wish you the best and good luck with your goals :)

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