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Become a Happy ‘Work At Home’ Freelancer
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.
In what way has your life changed since you work from home?
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.