As a freelancer, how do you positively manage your mental health?
Today it is more common to be self-employed than ever before, with millennials and Gen Zs setting the pace and constantly looking for more when it comes to the term “work-life balance.”
In addition, with the demand for freelancers skyrocketing, as more and more companies look for short-term hires, engaging specialists in their field and seeking to work with those who can 99.9% of the time deliver on projects faster, turning what you love into a freelancing career has never seemed so lucrative.
However, as freelancers, we also have to face some harsh facts.
With the increase of digital and social media, we often have presented to us a very unrealistic picture of what being a freelancer is really like. The working from anywhere, cool coffee shops, daytime walks with the dogs often overlook and miss the reality of the tired, stressed, and often overworked element of freelancing.
Not only this, but if you are moving from an office environment with teams and colleagues around you every day to working remotely and on your own, it can, and is, a big move and shift in mindset.
Therefore, managing this and being continuously aware of your mental health becomes essential.
Leading causes of freelancer stress and anxiety
- Irregular income
- Not receiving the right brief from the client or having no clarity on the project
- You’re not skilled in all areas
- Clients ghost you
- Long hours
- Feeling of isolation
- You’re responsible for all areas of the business, i.e., invoicing, payments, insurance, savings, finance, etc.
- We know that time costs money
- Freelancers have an inability to refuse work and say no when more demands come their way. (This is typically the case when first starting out and you’re finding your feet).
With burnout cited as the most common mental health issue among freelancers, it would be too easy for us to say make sure you get enough rest, sleep, and exercise.
Instead, we’ve pulled together our top tips on how you can effectively manage your mental health.
Identify what’s stressing you out the most, and get ready to make some changes
It’s important to sit down when you feel overwhelmed and anxiety begins to creep in, and take a mindful approach to the situation. What is it that is negatively affecting your mental health? I.e., unrealistic deadlines, financial worries, working over international time zones, understanding tax, insurance, legal jargon, etc.?
Once you can pinpoint specific areas, you can then make small changes that will make positively big differences.
Join a community
Joining a freelance community, like Freelance Heroes, is not only a great way of meeting new people, but it’s also a great way to help you and your business thrive as you have a range of answers and resources at your fingertips.
It’s essential to have an outlet to discuss your stresses, challenges, and concerns. And within a community of like-minded people, you have the opportunity to socialise with others, share tips, advice, and ask questions. Helping to reduce the feeling of isolation, it’s always good to know that you’re not alone.
We also recommend being part of both online and offline networking groups to provide you with variety and increase the number of opportunities to work with others.
Any form of exercise is not just good for our physical health, but it can be vital for our mental well-being.
Helping to combat depression and reduce anxiety, it’s crucial that you find the right type of exercise for you, as there certainly is not one exercise suits all.
Make sure you make the most of freelancing flexibility, using exercise as a great reason to get out of the house.
Of course, if you can’t get out and about, meditation or embarking on some mindfulness techniques can be a fantastic way to help realign your focus.
Set a schedule that works for you
You need to avoid burnout because, let’s face it, whether you’re just starting out or a pro in your field, we all have a habit of working all hours. However, we have to remember, we are our own boss, and it’s perfectly acceptable to set a schedule and times that work for you.
Setting schedules and blocking out times can also help set boundaries with clients. But, again, you need to define what and when work will be done, and be realistic.
We understand that it is tough for freelancers to switch off; there is ALWAYS something to think about or do, but taking a break and switching off is something we all need to learn.
Think about your most productive hours. Are you working/resting at the optimal times? You need to keep focus to avoid unnecessary stress, and understanding these key elements to your working pattern will most certainly help.
Create a clearly defined work area
Yes, working from your bed or the comfort of your couch can have its perks, but not 100% of the time. You need to set up your own “space,” a workspace that is clearly defined, helping to provide you with the right mindset, increase your motivation, and improve your mood.
Never be afraid to ask for help or support. Just having someone to talk to, bounce ideas off, help problem-solve with you, or simply just listen, can make a world of difference.
Why go freelance?
We can sometimes forget the many reasons why we chose to go into business alone and why we opted to become freelancers in the first place.
Remember some of the major benefits of freelancing include:
- You’re your own boss
- You’re no longer restricted to looking out of the same office window day after day, wishing for more
- You avoid those terrible employer demands
- You have complete flexibility in the hours you work, working to your own schedule
- You can work from anywhere
- You can choose a variety of work.
If done right, freelancing can be a profitable way to make a living, doing exactly what you love doing.
However, managing your mental well-being is vital.
The more aware and transparent we can be of our actions and optimal work and rest times, the more we can change and improve things.
Small changes to your working day can make you happier, more productive, and life much more enjoyable!