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Part 4 in our series ‘Taking the leap from PA to VA’ is all about self care.

One of my biggest learning curves when becoming a virtual personal assistant, was how to properly look after myself. Gone were the days of going to the gym on the way to the office, a long walk at lunch or a quick social drink after hours. I woke up at home, worked at home, and went to bed at home.  

Self care – is everywhere!

Every blog, Instagram post and podcast is about ‘self-care’, but still it was something I had completely neglected. I was a wife, mother and worker. I did not switch off from work, because I never actually left my office. I would work every spare minute I found. Evenings, weekends. It was all too easy to fire up the laptop. If something sprung in to your head, it could be done immediately. Even if that was 9pm. 

I know this is something many self-employed people struggle with. It is tricky to take the time to take care of yourself, when your time is literally worth money.

It took me a while to appreciate that a healthy, happy, more centered ‘me’, was much more productive, dedicated and more enjoyable to work with that the burnt-out, tired and wired ‘me’.

Once I realised this, I took action immediately. Well, that is to say, I made a Pinterest board of lots of ideas that I didn’t bother to implement until I had a melt down because Tesco was out of my preferred brand of cheese. So, below are the things I think it is essential to do when you are self-employed. It is not always easy, but honestly start as you mean to go on. You will thank yourself! 

Take Breaks 

I would find myself working at my desk for hours, then when I needed a break I would move to the couch….and work for hours. This is a big no!

Take breaks, set an alarm if you need to. Ideally take a short break every hour. Set an alarm and move away from your desk. Get some water, stretch your legs and thing about things OTHER than work.  

Walk walk walk 

I set a daily step target of 10,000. I stick my fit bit on and make sure I hit this target each day, even if it means I am pacing the kitchen when dinner is cooking. I try to walk 15 to 30 minutes before I start my day.  

Taking breaks will help too, because you can use this time to go for a short walk or do some stairs. Really the key here is getting a bit of exercise and movement in your day, without needing to drive to a gym.

There are even a few good ‘at your desk’ exercise plans you can do from your chair with some light dumbbells (god bless Pinterest) 

Diet 

This seems obvious, but you would be surprised how easy it is to work until 3pm without even remembering to get some water.

  • Eat regularly
  • Get good fats in to keep you going
  • Drink water like it’s your job.

Your body AND brain will thank you for it.

Keep snacks at your desk, or set alarms for lunch time if you have to. Batch cook healthy meals so you can have a decent meal at the ping of a microwave, make what you are putting in your body a priority! 

Switch it off 

This is the one I found hardest. Turn off your computer. Turn off your emails. If you can, just leave your phone in another room. If you are a slave to Instagram, then turn off the notifications for any work related apps until at least 8am the following day.

You need the time to think about other things, and you deserve it!