Working for yourself can be tough, especially when there are things going on in your life that are affecting your mood. Rather than having the ideal work/life balance, freelancing can mean putting in long hours to make your business a success.
When you work at home, there is less separation between your work and home life. For example, if you are worried about something or someone, getting out of the house to work in an office can be beneficial as it gives you a space to refocus your thoughts. Yet, if you are a self-employed freelancer and work from home, it can be more difficult to find the mental strength to get tasks done.
If you are finding it difficult to be productive when working from home, this guide gives you some tips on how to make changes that will make a difference.
Dealing with Loneliness as a Freelancer
Working from home can be isolating. You don’t have the advantage of being able to speak to others outside of your family environment as much as you do if you go out to work.
Working from home often means spending long hours by yourself, especially if your kids are at school and partner out at work. While some might relish the peace and quiet, and not have to fake smile at office colleagues you don’t really like, over time it can lead to loneliness and isolation that can affect your mental health.
One way to help is to make sure you get out of the house when you can. It could mean going for a walk at lunchtime, or opting to work at your local café for a couple of hours. Making the effort to socialise when you can will also give your happiness a boost.
Another way to deal with loneliness that can come from working alone all day is to seek out freelancing groups on the internet. It could mean joining a forum or finding a Facebook group. When you can speak to other people who are in the same boat as you, it gives you an outlet to bounce ideas, talk through your troubles and share an understanding with one another.
Increased Work Load
While the idea of freelancing often comes with the notion that you have more ‘freedom’, in actual fact there is more to freelancing than just doing the job you are charging money for. Add in the unpaid hours spent looking for work, pitching ideas to gain new clients, doing your own accounts and invoicing, and that is a whole load of extra unpaid work that you do each month.
For some freelancers, the heavy workload can cause stress and be detrimental to mental health. However, rather than let this grind you down, begin to organise you time better to help you power through your day.
How are your approaching your daily work tasks? Having a clear list of your daily goals helps give structure to your day, and allows you methodically work out the processes you need. This is key to keeping stress to a minimum! Try to get in the habit of writing your daily goals the evening before, so that you know exactly what you need to be doing the next day.
Using a calendar to write important dates or deadlines help give you a visual guide to your weeks and months ahead, and reminds you to keep on top of things.
Structure gives you stability, and that helps keep your mental health in a good place.
Learn How to Say No
Often freelancers find it hard to say no to work, probably due to the fact that there are periods when you don’t have work in. However, if you say ‘yes’ to everything then you are bound to feel the strain. Learn how to say no when your work capacity is full.
Looking After Yourself as a Freelancer
The key to feeling good is threefold – eating the right foods, getting enough exercise and proper sleep. Having these elements in place regularly will help keep you feeling mentally well when you are working from home.
Eating well and avoiding processed and fast foods will help give you sustained energy for both body and brain. While it’s easy and convenient to just grab something from a packet when you are busy, try to opt for healthy foods instead. You could also try making a batch of healthy lunch meals at weekends and freeing them, so all you have to do is heat up when you need a hot, nutritious meal.
If you have to work at a laptop all day, it can be hard to fit in exercise. But, exercise is one of the things that can help keep you in a good mood and is important is fighting a number of mental health conditions. Ideally, you should aim for 30 minutes of cardio exercise per day that gets your heart pumping and quickens your circulation. No matter what your level of fitness, there is a cardio exercise for you. From a brisk walk to a full on run, a gentle pedal on your bike to sweating it out at the gym, finding the time to exercise will benefit your mental health.
Are you getting enough sleep? It is hard to keep your mind from wandering when you are tired. Try to go to bed at a good time so you wake up feeling fresh in your mind each morning. Even going to bed half an hour earlier that you usually do can make a big difference to your mood.
One thing that can cause stress and uncertainty for freelancers is the fear of not having enough work. While some may have regular clients, others work on a single job basis. This can lead to worries about money.
If you are able to save, try to put aside a little each month while you have plenty of work on. That way, when you are hustling for your next gig, you have a financial cushion should you need it.
Looking after your mental health when you are a freelancer is really important, so make it a priority. If you are experiencing depression, or just feel constantly burned out, then you need to make some changes to benefit your life. Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to friends and family, or get advice from freelancing support groups to help you. You should also speak to a health professional if you feel like your mental health is too much to manage by yourself.
While the freelancing way or working can cause stress, it can also be a rewarding career. If you are struggling with mental health issues due to being a freelancer, don’t give up on your dreams. You just need to figure out a way to best use your time and talents in a constructive way.