The importance of your physical health

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It's easy to let your physical health and wellbeing slip if you're self-employed. Running a business, or freelancing and contracting for clients, can be busy, stressful and all-consuming. And if you're juggling projects and deadlines, it's tempting to let exercise, rest and nutrition fall to the bottom of your task list. But while that's not a major issue if it happens occasionally, ignoring your health and wellbeing can have serious implications for you, and your business.

You might work in an industry which requires you to be active, or happy ignoring the potential long term health problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle. But ignoring your wellbeing can quickly impact your productivity, and start affecting your mood and mental health.  Everyone has the occasional sleepless night, and understands how it can impact decision making. Over time, insomnia, a poor diet, and a lack of exercise can contribute to problems including burnout, loneliness and depression, alongside raised cholesterol and blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and more.

We want to support you in building a long and successful self-employed career.And that means helping you to set good habits and boundaries to ensure you're performing at your best as much as possible. Whether you are looking for tips on freelancing with a chronic illness, overcoming the challenges of being self-employed with a disability, or need some encouragement to invest some time in self care.

The good news is that freelancing and self-employment gives you the flexibility to integrate physical health and wellbeing into your daily routine. And it doesn't mean you need intensive workouts or to cut all junk food and treats from your diet. Just introducing a few small positive changes can make a big difference. Not only will you feel better, but your business is also likely to benefit.

As Hannah Lewin suggests in discussing the importance of exercise for freelancers, you don't need to go from zero to 100mph overnight. We've spoken to experts and professionals specialising in various fields of physical health to compile these guides, but it's always recommended to get medical advice before making any major lifestyle changes.

Self-employed health issues

Poor health can be one of the main causes of stress when you’re self-employed. Whether you’re just starting out, or an established freelancer, you may still need answers to questions such as; How to manage freelancing if you get sick, or how to deal with clients and projects during an illness?


Freelancing with a disability or chronic illness

Freelancing with a disability or chronic illness

Self-employment can be a great option for anyone living with a disability or chronic illness. Working on your own terms allows you to set boundaries for a better work-life balance, create an accessible and comfortable environment, and avoid limitations set by others.

Being aware of the support available can help self-employment become more enjoyable and rewarding. So, we’ve brought together advice and resources on how you can access grants and financial assistance, support networks and communities, and tips on managing your health and freelance career.

So whether you’d like to know more about freelancing and self-employment with a disability, or you could benefit from useful resources and links for freelancing and self-employment with a chronic illness, we have a growing range of articles designed to help you.


Freelancing and Self-Employment with a Chronic Illness

Discover the range of support and options available for the self-employed to manage working with a chronic illness or condition. And find help from organisation and communities to boost your physical and mental health.

Freelancing and Self-Employment with a Disability

Freelancing with a disability gives you the chance to define your work and life on your own terms. Our guide offers tips and advice on how to balance everything, create an accessible workspace and explains the financial support and benefits available.



What you eat and drink literally fuels your work. And there's never been a wider choice of positive or healthy options available, whether you're office-based or working remotely at home. So why do so many freelancers find themselves skipping meals, relying on caffeine and sugar for a boost, or surviving on takeaways?

Improving your nutrition doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. Staying hydrated can simply mean upping your water intake to avoid feeling tired and dizzy as the day progresses. Choosing the meals and ingredients you enjoy can be healthier without being expensive. And the rise of online shopping and subscription box deliveries mean you can access good food even if you're working anti-social hours.

And as nutritional therapist Beth Edwards explains, it's more about moderation than denying yourself an occasional treat. Everyone wants to celebrate finishing a project or securing a new client. But taking a little time to organise your nutrition means you'll have the drive and energy to power onto the next challenge.

If you need another reason to think about your food, there is also growing research showing that what you eat also impacts your mental health. Your nervous system includes major connections between your brain and digestive system, with evidence that your diet can impact your mood, anxiety levels and other issues.

Working from home

Working from home

Not every self-employed professional works remotely. But whether you're freelancing at home or contracting in a client office, it's easy to find yourself still sat at your desk eight or more hours after sitting down.

While a client workspace should meet Health and Safety Executive guidance and regulations, freelancers are much less likely to perform a home workstation assessment. Especially when remote work quite often involves a laptop on a kitchen table, or fitting your home office into a family space.

Putting the word ergonomic in front of office equipment often means paying a premium, but setting up your home office correctly doesn't have to necessarily be expensive. Fairly quick and simple changes can help you to protect your health, along with taking regular breaks, stretching and exercising.

If you're self-employed, dealing with a repetitive strain injury can have a major impact on your business and earnings. So why not minimise the risks by investing a little time in improving your office setup, and doing a few quick stretches in the privacy of your home?

Ergonomics: How to prevent an injury when you work from home

None of us know how long we will be working from home for. David Andry, a physiotherapist, explains how we can prevent injuries and the ways to treat them.

Desk Exercises for Home Offices

Home office workers often claim that they simply don’t have enough time to do any exercise. However, we will show you in this article how it’s possible to stay fit and healthy while working from home by using simple ‘deskercise’ routines - even with no or very little equipment.

Further resources

Further resources

Find more useful IPSE and third party resources for further reading on how to maintain and improve your physical health if you're self-employed. We'll continue to update the list with new and helpful information as it becomes available.


Looking for more?


Where next?

We have dedicated advice pages to help your physical and mental wellbeing whilst working from home but also on areas such as winning work or navigating the tax system. And to help and support you through all the challenges that can come with becoming self-employed, from chasing late payments to being able to work through power cuts and other emergencies.

View all advice pages



Physical wellbeing advice

Running a business, or freelancing and contracting for clients, can be busy, stressful and all-consuming, but Ignoring your health and wellbeing can have serious implications for you, and your business.


Mental wellbeing advice

We've put together a set of resources and guides to support positive mental wellbeing for the self-employed, combing our business knowledge with tips and advice from mental health and wellbeing experts.


Winning Work advice

Tips and advice to help you grow your business no matter what industry or sector you work in.


IR35 advice

Off-payroll working rules, otherwise known as IR35 or the intermediaries legislation, is a damaging taxation law from HMRC that IPSE strongly opposes.