How to stay active as a freelancer: A discussion with videographer Katie Stover

When you’re working for yourself it’s easy to focus so much on running your business that you forget to look after yourself and your own wellbeing. Recent research conducted by IPSE saw that 32% of freelancers surveyed reported high stress levels during the pandemic, and freelancers rating their mental health as good or excellent dropped from 68% to 39%.

This Stress Awareness Month, IPSE is promoting all the ways freelancers can prioritise their mental wellbeing and alleviate stress. Being active is an excellent way to not only look after your physical health, but also to help combat stress and improve your overall mental wellbeing. 

We caught up with freelance videographer Katie Stover on what staying active means to her and how freelancing affords her the opportunity to do the things she loves and live her life to the fullest. 

Orla:  How long have you been self-employed, and what drew you to become a freelance videographer?

Katie: I’ve been self-employed since the beginning of my career, which is eight and a half years ago now!
I kind of became a freelancer out of necessity.

I decided that I wanted to live abroad in the Netherlands after I graduated from university in the US and an easy way to get a visa to stay in the country was by starting a business.

Katie in snow with camera


I studied media studies and production at my Uni so to become a freelance videographer was the obvious choice for me. In hindsight there is nothing easy about starting a business in a foreign country straight out of University… but it's worked out perfectly for me for almost nine years and has helped me live my life the way that I want to.

Orla: How do you incorporate physical activity into your routine when working as a freelancer from home?

Katie: Being active is super important for me and being self-employed gives me the freedom to be as active as I want, when I want. I do a lot of sports - I’m an extremely active climber with CrossFit, weightlifting, cycling and more mixed in. Because I’m my own boss, I can take the time to go to the gym or go climbing when I want, or whenever works best for me. Maybe I go in the morning and start a bit later - or stop working early and go in the early afternoon. If I’m feeling particularly uninspired in the middle of the afternoon, I’ll just stop and try to do something active, maybe squeeze in a quick trip to the gym or go for a run. Usually afterwards I’m in a much better headspace to get work done.

I also always try to make a plan ahead of time for what I want to do in a week. That way it’s harder to skip because I have a workout already planned or I’ve already signed up for a class so I don’t have to think about it after a long work day when my mind and body are tired.

My job can also often go from periods of lots of activity when filming, to lots of time spent behind the computer editing - and the latter is when I need to take the most care of my body. I can easily (and accidentally) sit behind my computer for twelve hours straight. 

 

Katie climbing a mountain

To avoid this, even if I’m super busy, I make sure that I do something that gets me moving: I take a break every hour to do a 5 minute yoga sequence, every time I go to the toilet I do 10 push ups, and I go for a walk at lunch. If I’ve had a long day of sitting down then I focus on stretching and mobility for my back and shoulders. 

Katie in the mountains filming

 

Orla:  What inspires you to get fit?

Katie: Fitness and sports are a big part of my life - for work, pleasure and my health. Filmmaking in general can be physically taxing with long hours on your feet and heavy equipment. On top of that, a lot of my work involves climbing mountains or being on expeditions which means being physically fit is a necessity. If I can’t carry 20 kilos of camera gear for 2 weeks at altitude, I simply won’t get that job.

A lot of the sports that I do: weight lifting, rock climbing, running, are to help me stay fit to work in extreme conditions. 

That necessity for me turned into a genuine passion. I found the sports that worked for me, that I really wanted to do and I enjoyed the process of pushing my body and seeing what it could do. While some things I do because I’m preparing for an expedition, most things I do only because I love doing it and that is what motivates me the most. I notice such a difference in my energy, my creativity and mental health when I’ve been active versus a day that I haven’t. 

My sports are also my community. I joined an incredible gym and have a bunch of great climbing halls in my city so I always have friends to join me. So it allows me the opportunity to be kind to my body and be social at the same time in a career path that can be quite lonely! On top of that I’ve even gotten work from people I’ve met through my gym!

Orla: How does freelancing allow you the flexibility to pursue your activity adventures?

Katie: I don’t think I could be as active or as adventurous as I am if I wasn’t self-employed. I have the freedom to take on as much or as little work as I need so that I can focus on my passions. And because being active is technically part of my job, I can justify that time away as building my skills. 

For example, if I haven’t been on a climbing trip in a while, I can arrange my week of work to be able to sneak away on a Friday for a climbing weekend in the Ardenne. I’m always sure I bring my camera to get cool photos and videos of my friends climbing for my portfolio. Or I can work extra hard in the spring so that I can plan to be in the Alps for an extended period of time in the summer climbing and mountaineering. If I bring my camera and laptop with me I can also work in that period if I need to. 

Katie at the summit

 

Orla: If you could give three tips to a fellow freelancer for staying active while working from home, what would you advise? 

Katie: My personal top three tips for other freelancers working from home would be:

1. Try to be active everyday, in whatever way you can. It’s so easy to get caught up in our work as freelancers and focus more on the business than ourselves. But because we are our business, it’s even more important to take care of our personal needs and our bodies. When you make time to exercise, you make time to take care of yourself - mentally and physically. Even if you’re busy, try to do something: yoga in the morning, a walk around your block at lunch, etc.

2. Focus on your posture and find some good stretches to help counteract all the sitting! It took me a lot of back pain and many trips to the physical therapist to learn this one. Make sure your desk is set up correctly, that you have a good chair and that you are sitting up straight. Also be sure to take breaks from the sitting throughout the day. If you have sat for a long time doing some stretches for your back like twists, cat cow, frog stretch, knees to belly or child's pose can really help. 

3. Find something you enjoy. It can be hard to get into a fitness routine so it’s a lot easier if you are doing something you like to do. Try out different things that work for you. Maybe you like to have a coach tell you what to do so you don’t have to think about coming up with a workout, maybe you like the community a running club brings, or maybe you’ve found a great yoga teacher on YouTube. Find the thing (or things!) you enjoy and stick with it!

You can find out more about Katie and her videography work at http://www.katiestover.com

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Meet the author

Orla Lyons-Hamilton.jpg
Orla Lyons-Hamilton

Freelance Marketing Executive