Empowering the Freelance Economy

Alternative health “tools for life” could be every freelancer’s answer to less stress and a longer life

Stressful life events: can they become a path to something better?/Photo by Tobi from Pexels
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If 90% of Illnesses are linked to stress, why aren’t more of us relieving our stress levels as if our lives depended on it? The Freelance Informer looks at some of the latest alternative health tools and gadgets to find that some could add years if not decades to our lives and mental health.

When many of us think of stress, we think of emotional triggers, such as work deadlines, demands from clients and home life. Perhaps it’s that voice in your head saying you are not bringing in enough money or saving enough for a comfortable pension. If we recognise certain stress triggers, we can adapt our behaviour to eliminate them.

However, we could easily be adding unnecessary stress to our bodies emotionally and physically through bad daily habits that can start before we even get out of bed. What if that could all change and we could start to feel renewed? Not stress-out about things so easily?

Functional Medicine Director Mark Hyman, MD recommends kicking sugar out of your diet to avoid many illnesses including cancer
Photo source: Cleveland Clinic

If you take part in any of these activities, try replacing it with a healthier alternative:

  • The trigger: Your food and drink. Research has highlighted a link between food, inflammation and depression, according to a study by Alessandra Borsini, a neuroscientist at Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscince at King’s College London. This link between food and depresson is one of the hottest areas in biomedicine.
  • The alternative: Start your day with low inflammatory foods so that your body’s cells and tissues are not stressed with too much glucose, which can make you more susceptible to viruses, nerve damage and diabetes and now some doctors are linking high and long-term sugar intake to cancer. Cancer thrives on fructose, according to Dr Hyman. The internet has many anti-inflammatory recipes to try including those for vegans and food allergy sufferers.
    • Think a Spanish or Medietrranean breakfast not a continental one (often full of carbs and sugars) that will include a healthy mix of vegetables, dairy, proteins and low sugars. Pan con tomate is very popular option in Spain and can be accompanied with one small coffee with semi-skimmed milk or a milk alternative and if some dairy and protein, such as manchego cheese and serrano ham. Save fresh fruit juice for later in the day, perhaps as a snack, as the glucose from the milk, cheese and bread will be too much for your system to take all at once.
  • The trigger: Deadlines and distractions.
  • The alternative: Make sure you are focused on those projects that have an imminent deadline and let those you work with know you are on deadline, so that they understand that you may not get to their emails immediately. Ask them to WhatsApp you if it needs to be addressed in the next 60 minutes. This takes pressure off of you having to multi-task. You can do this with an email to specific people and clients or an Out of Office message if necessary. If you do not need your mobile phone to work on the immediate task or deadline at hand, then place it away from hand’s length. Social media and email alerts will be a distraction and take you away from your work, which will only stress you out if you have a deadline.

Stressful life events: can they become a path to something better?

One of the most stressful events can be losing a job or a lucrative contract. But some freelancers spin that life change into a new career opportunity, much like Sylvia Tillman did.

“My background is in IT and business development, but alternative health has been my true love for the past 20 years,” she tells The Freelance Informer.

“When the pandemic hit and my job came to an end I took the plunge to offer everything I had trained in as a freelancer so that I could be location-independent. I am now offering Jikiden Reiki treatments, laughter yoga classes and having the most amazing job ever as a TRE instructor,” says Sylvia.

Sylvia has a foundation training in counselling skills (COSCA) and is also a Jikiden Reiki practitioner and Laughter Yoga Leader. She trained in TRE®, a self-help tool to relieve stress, with Steve Haines (London), Su Thomas (South Africa) and Anya Bloom (Israel).

What is TRE and how can it transform freelancer stress and health issues?

TRE (Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises) was developed by Dr David Berceli and is a self-help tool to support the body to release stress. Sylvia teaches TRE® and credits it for being more relaxed and resilient and for her much-improved hip and lower back pain: “I simply shake it off and that gives me tremendous relief!”

“My clients’ testimonials state – among other things – better sleep, more resilience and energy, less pain, and more flexibility,” says Sylvia.

One of Sylvia’s clients gave this testimonial after practising TRE:

“I slept so well, my body feels more flexible and my teenage kids can’t wind me up so easily as I’m much more relaxed.”

Sylvia says everybody should know how to easily shake off stress and how to take their health and well-being into their own hands. 

“It is a well-known fact that stress is associated with almost 90% of all illnesses and relaxation is the antidote to stress. TRE are somatic exercises that help your body to release deep muscular patterns of stress and participants report deep relaxation, better sleep and less pain as well as improved mental health,” she says.

“Especially now where many people struggle with (mental) health, can’t see their GPs or are on waiting lists for treatments. Many ailments can be addressed pro-actively and simply – we just need to know how to do that.

Sylvia is also a big believer in laughter yoga, which is promoted by specialists such as Dr Madan Kataria. Those that practice it claim a deeper sense of calm, a better ability to handle daily life and its stresses. The practice also has positive effects linked to the social interaction, laughter and related breathing exercises that group laugher yoga sessions can bring.

Latest wellbeing gadgets and books

Power Weighted Ring

This gadget is cheaper than a gym membership and can help those that sit at a desk for long periods of time by engaging shoulder and arm muscles. It is also great for improving posture. Here are some exercises to try:

Books and interactive apps

Grief Works: the book and app

As a leading grief psychotherapist, Julia Samuel has spent the last thirty years supporting bereaved families. How we handle grief can have major implications on our health and wellbeing, not just individually but as a family unit.

The pandemic has been one of the most telling periods in her career and led to her appointment to the UK Commission on Bereavement, an independent group exploring how to better support people going through a bereavement. Now as the Founder Patron of Child Bereavement UK, with Prince William being Royal Patron, she was awarded an MBE for her services to bereaved children. She is also Vice President of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

In a recent interview, she explained that we will do things to block the pain, but will actually do us more harm over time. When we shut down pain, she says we also shut down our ability to experience joy.

She is the author of two bestselling books: Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass.

GRIEF WORKS APP – Immediate Support in your Pocket (griefworkscourse.com)

You can also listen to other podcasts here.

Insight Timer

More than six million people use the free meditation app Insight Timer. It offers courses on how to meditate, a fan-favourite meditation timer (for those who prefer unguided meditations), and an expansive free library of more than 35,000 guided meditations (including for sleep) with renowned teachers like Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Kristin Neff.

Gisele Bündchen, supermodel and business owner, also provides guided meditation through the app, including one that will take children on a magical journey through an enchanted forest.

“They will meet four special creatures who each have a unique superpower. Your little adventurers will learn to listen to their inner voice, express their feelings, and follow their hearts. With a pinch of magic dust, they will learn how to find their inner strength and courage, which will help them embody love, joy and gratitude”

Giselle Bündchen

For more mental health apps, check out this long list provided by Very Well Mind.

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