Tag Archives: Stress Free Freelancer

Look After Yourself

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Written by Director of TRS SK, Georgie for the TRS Teachers and anyone else who is finding it hard at the moment. 

 

In these crazy uncertain times, we can forget one of the most important things… ourselves! Whether you’re a nurse, a carer, an activities coordinator, a teacher, a stay at home parent (who has now had to try and home school) or, like us, a freelancer. You need to make sure you are looking after YOU!

Everyone is juggling with things they aren’t used to, and that’s ok. You can make mistakes, you may even embrace these extras, but I wanted to help you make sure that you take care of yourself. Because at the end of the day, you need looking after, just like everyone else.

I’ve got together some ideas for you to try, they are simple for a reason. They won’t take much time out of your day, but you do need to allocate yourself some ‘you time’. Even if it’s 15 minutes at the end of the day. I guarantee you will feel the benefits of it straight away. The reason I know… I am in the same boat as you too. I started off in a panic, I was working ridiculous hours, racking my brain with all these worst-case scenarios and what will I do? All whilst bringing up my 8-month-old, and I did not give myself ANY time, and I started to burn out a lot quicker than usual!

This is why I wanted to do this, if I can help some people then that will be mission accomplished. If I help loads, even better! So here are my top ‘you time’ ideas:

  1. Read

I have always loved reading. However, I’ve struggled to find the time, and believe it or not, motivation, to do so. No matter what it is you prefer, whether it’s a fantasy world to get stuck into or a self-help book to help you find your way more. There are so many out there, and a tip from me… Reading before bed really allows you to relax your mind and take away all those thoughts that may go running around your head usually.

  1. Movie time

Yes, there are lots of people having to try schooling from home. But I have seen a lot of teachers say ‘don’t worry too much!’ and they’re right. Get the family together, or even on your own and like above get lost in a movie. Especially one you haven’t seen before. Put your PJ’s on, grab some snacks and literally relax on the sofa all snuggled up.

  1. Sing

That’s right. You don’t have to be the next Adele but singing really helps you to relax and loosen up. Put on your favourite record and sing your heart out!

  1. Dance

Now, being a dancer, this one was bound to come up. As above, turn the music on whether that be some 80’s pop or a slow bit of Enya. Just put the music on, close your eyes and move how your body feels. Let it lead you!

Remember when you were young and you would go to your room, put your favourite music on and sing and dance your heart out?! Why do we stop doing that! It’s a great way just to release ourselves and let go… trust me, give it a try!

  1. Draw / Colour

I’ll admit, I have never been great at art (my brother definitely got all of the talent there!) BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. Especially colouring / painting by numbers. There’s something wonderful about seeing a black and white piece of paper come to life. I’ve especially loved painting with my little one. Just exploring the colours and honestly, making a mess! There are so many colouring sheets available and it is unbelievably relaxing. You can also do these on your phone, but try to get away from the screen for a little while.

  1. Breathe

Yep, I literally mean it. Take 5 minutes out of your day. Find a spot away from everyone (and the weather has been lovely recently so even go in the garden) and just close your eyes, sit and breathe. This can be done at any time, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed. It will reset you and you will feel ready for the rest of the day.

  1. Cook

I’ll be honest, this one isn’t for me BUT there are so many relaxing qualities to just letting loose in the kitchen and cooking up your favourite meal. Or learn a new recipe. Perhaps you’re really good at cooking but haven’t tried baking? Bake yourself your favourite cake… perfect movie snack right there!

  1. Self care

Now all of this is self care, but here particularly I am talking about your body. Give yourself a facial, hair mask or even a manicure and yes this is for men too! Just as relaxing for everyone. Even a couple of cucumbers on the eyes for 5 minutes while you relax will help you feeling fresh.

  1. Learn something new

Whether that be a new language, a course you’ve been wanting to do for a while or maybe even knitting. This will really give you that ‘you time’ you need. Again allocate yourself time to do this. You never know, you may even find your new niche!

  1. Write

Coincidentally I am finishing with writing. Just pick up a pen (or on your phone/laptop) and write away. There doesn’t need to be a theme. You don’t need to write a story, although you can do! But especially at the moment writing has really helped to clear my mind. Get different subjects out of my head but relax me and I can easily get lost just writing and writing.

 

So, there you have it. A few ideas for you to make sure you start looking after yourself. And remember, no storm lasts forever.

 

If you would like to read more a little bit like this, our Stress Free Freelancer blogs were aimed at freelancers and their health and wellbeing. 
https://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/tag/stress-free-freelancer/ 

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Stress Free Freelancer

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Stress Free Freelancer

It’s been a year since the last Stress Free Freelancer post. I know that some of the TRS Teachers have given many of the ideas ago and they’ve had success! Since the final blog we’ve also created a new Pinterest board with other ideas to try.

Link to Pin board…

Link to all the Stress Free Freelancer blogs in one place…
http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/category/health-and-wellbeing/stress-free-freelancer/

We’re a Healthy Business!!

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On Monday 23rd November 2015 the TRS Teachers sat down to an unusual All Hands Meeting (the six monthly get together, celebrate and plan the future meeting). It was the start of a year long journey to become a healthy business and complete the criteria in the Workplace Wellbeing Charter.

workplace-wellbeing-charterThe TRS staff were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their health and wellbeing. Answering questions such as approximately how much physical activity do you do in a week (a lot!) and do you feel stressed in your job role (yes!)? The Medway Council Healthy Business Team, who supported us throughout the process, put the information into their computer and we received a document that showed us where we could improve and what we were already doing well (notably celebrating our staff and their achievements).

I got straight onto it.

I gave the policies a huge overall and all of the TRS staff gave feedback and started to work with the new policy and procedure documents throughout their TRS classes. We had to implement Absence Management from scratch, we improved our Healthy Eating policy and we worked hard to put procedure in place for when TRS Teachers have to be away from work. I’m very proud of the policies now, they are much better than before and I feel they work for us and the people we work with.

Stress was identified as an issue for TRS Teachers. Although they all agreed they love their jobs and that the stress isn’t down to the job itself, they felt they could do with some support. Many staff members felt the stress was due to putting pressure on themselves, it wasn’t actually an outside pressure and often wasn’t something that should worry them at all. I started to gather ideas for reducing stress and wrote the ‘Stress Free Freelancer’ blog posts. Bex, our volunteer administrator created a Health and Wellbeing Folder that’s available for all TRS staff and is full of information. We also had a stress focused All Hands Meeting in May and Steph, our Schools Dance Co-ordinator, shared some practical strategies to deal with stress.

The Charter has three levels and we were aiming for the first, commitment, level as we are a very small business compared to some involved (entire councils and hospital trusts!). We were so pleased that by the end of the process we had gone much further than expected and have reached the second tier, achievement in almost all areas and even got to the third tier, excellence in two areas (smoking and physical activity). Perhaps we’ll be back to pick up an excellence award in a few year’s time!!

Aworkplace-wellbeing-charter-commitmentlmost a year on we had managed to get our evidence folder in order and it was presented to the Medway Healthy Business Team to check it through. Georgia, Steph and Bex were interviewed to check that we were actually doing as we said we were and we waited to see if we had reached our commitment goal! 20161117_213833_001

On Thursday 17th November 2016 (almost a year since we started the process), Georgia, Steph and I attended the Healthy Business Awards and had a fantastic evening. Businesses were from Kent as well as Medway and there was a lot of great work to celebrate. We heard of potato competitions, an office dog that staff can take for a walk around the block instead of going for a smoke and a group of staff from one firm who have turned their lives around and now run for charity. 20161117_213538

20161117_210349I would like to thank Michelle Saunders from Medway Council, who helped us throughout the process and all of the TRS staff members for their support and patience. It can’t be easy when you’re given new policy and procedure documents to follow (there was a lot to read!). I do hope they’ve felt a positive affect as a result of this process and I look forward to continuing to develop the company with our wonderful staff in mind.

 

 

For now though, let’s celebrate with our brand new trophy!!

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Stress Free Freelancer – Mind and Body

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Stress Free Freelancer

I’ve had the pleasure of working more closely with the TRS Teachers the past few weeks and I’ve been finding out what they do to keep their minds and bodies happy. It’s clear that to be stress free you must have a happy mind, but the body is just as important.

 

 

Some need to spend more time keeping body and mind happy than others and the approaches are varied. The activities aren’t necessarily all completely separate to work either; there are mixed areas, as you might expect from people who have turned their hobby into their job.

Coffee and cake
Indulging alone whilst thinking and people watching. Being mindful and calm as you think through your current situation.

CPD
Continued Professional Development is being used, not only to further careers or point them into new directions, but as a recognised avenue to a happy mind, and often, body.

Training sessions are incredibly useful, inspiring and fun! Sharing ideas and gaining reassurance throughout our practice helps us to grow and develop constantly.
Stephanie Vezmar, Schools Dance Co-ordinator, TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator

Massage
Often a necessity for a dancer’s body, but when used as a regular or preventative measure, massage can become relaxing. A time for contemplation with the underlying satisfaction that the dancer’s body is benefiting.

Pilates or Yoga
Popular amongst dance teachers, this is an opportunity for the body and mind to work together. An often gentle workout and a time to be alone with thoughts. Once they have the basics, this isn’t always completed in a class, but often alone at home.

Read a Book
When we were young, school asked us to read everyday. Do we still do that? Finding the time can be a challenge, but if you carry the book around short 10 minutes count.

Just a short list of the things discussed recently. Why are these things needed though? Some reasons are negative, reasons such as stop pain, needing time to get away or to reduce crackley muscles and joints. Other reasons are more positive, enjoyment of being active, extension of the mind or body’s limits or trying something new.

There is one key reason that applies to all of these things (including some CPD), relaxation.

How often do you relax?

A big thank you to all the TRS Teachers who’s brains I have picked for this post. The list above will make it quite obvious to some that I’ve stolen your ideas!

Stress Free Freelancer – Calm Those Nerves

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Stress Free Freelancer
Nervousness is something that dancers are familiar with. The chances are that every dance teacher has experienced nervousness just before a performance. Back stage, sweaty palms, forgetting the first move, needing the loo when you only just went. Everyone experiences it differently and most dance teachers have learnt how to manage stage fright.

 

Nervousness as a community dance practitioner can be a very different thing. It might happen just before class or a new exercise (“oh no, what comes next!?”) It might be that the mountain of admin is the scary bit so it gets put aside (see Mountain Management). It might be driving nerves or what if? nerves. Whatever the cause there are things that can be done and I’ve put a few ideas here. I suffer from nervousness in a big way because I always think too much. These things have helped me, but it’s important to find what works for you as well.

The Deep Breath
Yes, we’ve heard it before. Take a deep breath before moving on. It works though. Last Thursday I sat at lunch with some other business owners. It was clear we were all having a stressful week for one reason or another and that meant everyone was a bit tense. I called upon my dance training, we sat up straight and lifted our arms as we took a deep breath in. As we slowly lowered and breathed out I noticed that my (very cooperative) colleagues were quite surprised. Conversation flowed more easily after that. The breathing moment made us happier.

Solve The Problem
Often we worry for a reason that can be solved. Perhaps you’re putting something off or think you have too much to do? Solve the problem and the nerves will go. You might feel proud of yourself too. If you feel there’s too much to do you could solve the problem with a list. Wonderful things that often show you there’s less to do than you think!

Distraction Technique
Do something different for a few moments. Perhaps you’re nervous because you’re thinking too much or because you have wound yourself up? A couple of minutes of distraction won’t hurt your schedule as much as dwelling on the nerves will so find the distraction technique that works for you. Some ideas…

Dancing!!
A few yoga poses
Laugh
Phone a friend (or fellow dance teacher)
Walk (not even out of the house, just to a different room will do!)

Get Some Sleep
Lack of sleep can cause a vicious circle of nerves and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. A really fantastic trick, one with scientific underpinning and that I believe in, is the 4-7-8. This can also help if you have a late evening class and find it difficult to wind down. Among other things the 4-7-8 slows your heart rate, clears your mind and relaxes you. Breath in for 4, hold it for 7 and breath out again for 8. Count slowly though! It’s tempting to breath more quickly than this, but don’t and you will be rewarded with sleep. There’s lots more information a quick Google away so have a read before you try it.

Whatever the cause of your nervousness it’s so important to choose a solution that fits you and your situation. And if nothing seems to work you can always embrace the nerves and use them to your advantage somehow. One things for sure, nerves tend to scare you into working harder and producing better results!

The final thing I’ve learnt… a lot of the time anxiety is formed from a combination of thinking to much and an over active imagination. With this knowledge it becomes (slightly) easier to reduce the nerves.

So next time you’re feeling anxious about something find something that works for you and try to combat it.

Good luck!

Stress Free Freelancer – Mountain Management

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Stress Free Freelancer
Busy people with many different hats… We work at strange times and we travel to multiple places every day. No wonder being a freelance dance practitioner can feel like climbing a mountain of never-ending things to do!

 
There are ways to control it though.The Know Your Limits blog post gave tips for controlling the build up of things to do, but once you have the to do list there you need ways to keep track of everything and, possibly most importantly, ways to make yourself reach your targets!

Manageable Goals
You’ll never feel like you’ve achieved anything if you set yourself impossible goals. Try breaking large tasks down into smaller chunks and take things on a bit at a time.

Carrotise
Once you have your manageable goals you have more opportunities to tick things off and that’s often the feel good factor you need to carry on to the next task. You can also distribute other carrots along the way. If you really enjoy lesson planning and choreography, decide that you can do that once you’ve finished a more arduous task first.

Catch up Time
We tend to have less teaching during the school holidays so this is a great time for a catch up. Especially if there are some big tasks to do that are difficult to fit into small slots here and there throughout the term.

Step by Step
Try not to leave things until the last-minute or until you have time to do everything in one go. You will carry the stress of knowing you’ve not done it yet and by doing a little at a time it feels like the work load is reduced.

Visualise
Dancers are visual people so we need to make list management visually appealing. It’s always best to find a system that works well for you, but you could try a few different things. Colour coding could mean a code to show the length of time tasks will take, the importance of task or even the more appealing to least appealing tasks. Writing tasks into a diary on the day they need to be done is a visual way to meet deadlines and see tasks in manageable chunks. Even a little square next to each task makes things more interesting. Tick the box when you’re done!

Set Your Boundaries
This is really key to Managing your Mountain so have a peak at the Stress Free Freelance – Boundaries blog post for some more tips.

And remember, being stress free doesn’t mean you don’t care. It means you will put systems in place to allow you to get on with things, safe in the knowledge that you will be happy, on schedule and within your limits.

Good luck!

Stress Free Freelancer – Know Your Limits

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Stress Free FreelancerWe’ve all done it… We’ve said yes too many times and found ourselves swamped with work. I did it, took on a full time job in a shop because I needed to and then worked for dance companies in every spare hour because that was what I was interested in. I burnt out.

When I moved to Medway I made a pact with myself and set my rules (see my previous blog post). I also had a better idea about my limits. Here are some of the things you can do to stop yourself going over the top.

So here are my tips for avoiding the burnt out, over tired feelings…

Stick to the things you enjoy
It will make you happy and will help you keep your work load down. Plus, work is less tiring and you’re enthusiastic about it.

Leave time to plan
If you know when you’re going to do your planning you don’t have to worry about it and ideas might just spring into mind in the meantime. Plus, if you plan well you’ll be proud of your lessons and that will make you feel good.

Learn to say sorry, no
If it doesn’t fit, say no. It’s fine to do that. You can always recommend someone else. No one person can do everything!

Don’t under sell yourself
Dance teachers deserve an hourly rate they can live on. It sounds obvious, but we’re so often asked to work for so little. If you earn a good amount of money you can work less hours. The Right Step fights for this, it can be done!

Variety is important
Don’t teach all of the time, it requires a huge amount of energy. Admin is important too. Try teaching a few different types of classes to find the balance between planning lots and getting bored of teaching similar lessons all the time.

Be A Stress Free Freelancer – Boundaries!

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Stress Free Freelancer

 

At The Right Step Dance Company I work with many freelance dance artists, we call them TRS Teachers. Some are community dance practitioners, some are dance teachers, some are facilitators or instructors, but whatever they call themselves, they are technically sole traders and they all work for themselves.

 

Working for yourself is great most, of the time, but it does have extra difficulties that aren’t necessarily there when working for someone else so I’ve put together some tips for freelancers to help them along the way.

Be stress free…

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care, it means you will put systems in place to allow you to get on with things, safe in the knowledge that you will be happy, on schedule and within your limits.

Set your boundaries…

If you consistently follow the boundaries you’ve set yourself you will be focused when you’re working and able to relax when you aren’t. It’s important to set boundaries that work for you. Everyone is different and has different needs.

Let’s start with three…

1. Know your work hours – If you’re a morning person, but useless in the evening set your work hours accordingly. If you like to have a siesta, plan it in. No one can work all of the time, we get tired and then we’re unproductive. It is important to be available though. Note when people need you most and try and work around it.

2. To email or not to email? – Nowadays we can receive our emails on our phones as well as computers, but it can be tempting to work all hours of the day or to just quickly do things here and there.  Set a boundary to make sure emails don’t get in the way. Maybe use the phone to read emails, then you can work on a reply for when you’re back at your desk. If you like to reply on the run make your phone the main thing you use so you don’t get in a muddle over who you’ve replied to and who you haven’t.

3. Admin Vs. Teaching – Teaching is the fun bit for most TRS Teachers and that’s why The Right Step does the admin, but to be stress free it needs to be under control. Set a boundary so you know you’re keeping on top if it. Perhaps an hour every morning or a couple of scheduled hours a week?

So they’re boundary related tips to becoming a stress free freelancer!

Good luck