I’ve freelanced for many years and I know at times it has had a negative impact on my mental health, and you may be noticing an effect on yours.
As a freelancer, you won’t have access to some of the health benefits provided by larger organisations that often provide access to wellbeing services.
You may also spend a lot of time on your own if you are flying solo without a team, not to mention carrying the weight of looking for new clients, managing existing ones, and marketing yourself…that’s before you’ve even brought home life responsibilities into it. So, how can you look after your mental health as a freelancer?
This may seem obvious but when you’re working alone you don’t often have meaningful conversations about how YOU are doing.
You don’t have a teammate to rant to or unload your concerns upon over a morning cuppa. It’s important to make time for conversations that matter, that aren’t just about work.
Find yourself another freelancer you can team up with that understands what you might be going through and arrange to meet/video call every 2-4 weeks to sanity-check each other and unload some of those problems.
As a freelancer, you are in danger of letting clients dictate your boundaries. They call in the evening, expect responses to emails at the weekend, demand work that isn’t really in your remit but you feel you can’t say no to!
STOP! If someone wants to work with you they will be happy to wait for your response within your working hours (and if they’re not, do you really want them as a client?).
Secondly, saying no opens up other opportunities, imagine saying no to a job you didn’t want to do and using that time making progress on other work, or even finding a new client and new opportunities! It’s OK to say no!
You’re so busy running your business you’ve forgotten what the outside world looks like.
You’ve also forgotten how to simply play! Getting away from your desk and outside for even just 10 minutes can make a huge difference to your mental health.
Give yourself the time to recharge those batteries and have some fun! You’ll feel so much better and able to do your job to an even higher standard.
As a freelancer, your priorities often come last. You’ve got client work and their deadlines, and outside of that, you’re promoting yourself to make sure that client work doesn’t dry up!
Quite often you find yourself working into evenings and weekends just to keep on top of things.
However, to keep on top of your mental health for freelancers, you need to set aside some “me” time. Block out an evening a week, an hour a day, or even an entire day if that’s what you need.
Put it in your calendar and make sure you take that time to switch off and do something you really want to do. It’s your time, don’t feel guilty for using it!
When you’re a freelancer your mind can be a fantastic tool or your worst enemy! Constantly ticking away and thinking…doesn’t it love to do this at 3 am when you’re trying to sleep?!
As we all find though, if we aren’t working there are plenty of other things to do – washing up, cleaning the house, running around after the family – an endless to-do list!
That’s why we have to allow ourselves to stop, guilt-free! If your body and mind are calling out to do nothing but sit and watch Netflix, then do that.
Don’t guilt yourself into tidying or finding something productive to do. It’s OK to allow yourself to do nothing.
If it’s one thing I’ve always been good at, it’s picking up other people’s stress. I used to leave client meetings carrying all their stress as I couldn’t help but pick it up.
Picture us all carrying around a ball of stress, when someone puts theirs down in front of you, do you pick it up? As freelancers we may do this with our clients, when they are frantic and panicked we take their stress and make it our own.
But remember this, you don’t have to pick that ball of stress up, it is NOT your responsibility.
It doesn’t mean you don’t care or won’t do a fantastic job for them, but it will mean you won’t be carrying that extra weight…and remember, you are allowed to say no!
This is a great analogy. Imagine everyone that needs something from you is drinking out of your cup, eventually, your cup is going to be empty and you won’t have anything to share with anyone.
Step away, make time for yourself, recharge your batteries, and allow your cup to fill. Only by looking after yourself and filling your own cup will you be able to help others.
Mental health awareness week is a great time to talk about mental health, but you need to be looking after yourself all year round.
How do you look after your mental health as a freelancer? What tips and techniques can you share to help other freelancers that may be struggling with their own mental health?
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