Self Care

5 quick ways to bolster yourself on difficult days

Everybody has bad days, and as freelancers we often face them alone. Here are some quick ways you can boost your mood and help your brain get back on track.

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Take a walk, ideally in nature

It can feel like going in the wrong direction when you’re busy and stressed, but taking 20 minutes out to take a stroll around green things can be a magic brain reset. Nature reduces our stress, and a little light exercise helps to clear the mind and body. Resist the urge to listen to podcasts or the radio, and turn off your phone (don’t panic, it’s just for 20 minutes). Give your brain a break from having to deal with things and let it reset.

Build an achievement list

As independent creators, we’re always focussed on the next thing to do, the next problem to solve. It’s a good way to get work done and to keep improving your business. But doing it all the time can make it feel like you’re never achieving anything. Take 20 minutes to list all the things you’ve completed this month, or made progress on. It will help to give some fair context to your infinite to do list.

Do something you know you enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it

Being stressed and busy can grey our memories of the things that bring us joy. You can find yourself not in the mood to work, but not in the mood to do anything else either. But that feeling that everything is dismal will fade as your brain starts to relax, so force yourself to do something you know makes you happy, even if you’re not in the mood for it. The fun things will still work their magic.

Talk to a friend

Spend too long on your own and your brain gets extremely cocky, believing every thought it comes up with. Friends help us to normalise our thoughts, testing their nonsense against another person’s perspective. And it’s amazing how having to explain your thoughts in actual words to an actual human can change how we think about them. Things that seemed monumental suddenly seem manageable. So grab a friend for a chat, in person or on the phone, and benefit from their wisdom.

Make a realistic plan

Admit it, you think you can fit more into your day than you can. We all do. And that can make us feel frazzled and unproductive. So if you’re having a difficult day, grab a cup of tea and plan (or re-plan) your week. Be a bit more generous with your estimates to allow for other people and the real world. Prioritise your tasks by what’s important to your business, not what’s urgent for a client. You’ll feel better prepared for your week and you’ll be able to set more realistic expectations for your customers.