A Freelancer’s Guide To Mental Health

Taking care of our mental health has never been so important. 

According to Mind*, one in four adults experiences a mental health problem every year. 

We know that as a freelancer, especially during the pandemic, working alone means that it can often get lonely. 

A study from Viking** has recently revealed that two thirds of freelancers experience feeling lonely at some point, with over half experiencing depression as a result of their job. 

Other factors which impact freelancer’s mental health are burnouts from the inability to refuse jobs and stop working as well as the stress from an irregular income.

It’s more important than ever to look after your mental well being. But that’s easier said than done.

In this article we outline our top tips on how to improve and maintain your mental health as a freelancer.

  1. Identify the stress

The first step to improving your mental health is to realise what is actually the problem. This may be a difficult factor to pinpoint and could be an amalgamation of multiple factors. 

For example, it could be a result of billing, late payments, insurance, finances, savings or current client work. 

By identifying what the main cause of your stress is, will enable you to work out what needs to be done to combat the issue. 

2. Create the perfect work life balance 

You might have started freelancing so you had more time to do the things you love, so, make sure that you have the correct work to life ratio. 

Tracking both your work hours and your out of work hours means that you can assess if you are spending enough of doing both and finding the perfect balance.

Find out when you’re most productive and make sure you set aside these hours to dedicate to working. This means that you’ll be the most efficient during this time. 

3. Learn when to say no

Working as a freelancer may mean that work isn’t always consistent. However, too much work could lead to stress, depression and ultimately a burnout. 

Learning when to say no when you already have too much on your plate will reduce stress and prevent this from happening. 

Be clear with clients and set boundaries. Tell them when your work hours are and when they can expect work to be completed. This means that clients will not expect more than you can give them, removing any pressure that they could place on you. 

4. Meet other freelancers

When dealing with mental health, one of the worst things you can do is to keep it all bottled up inside. Reach out and talk to others. 

Talking to other freelancers will help you realise that you are not alone as they may also be going through the same thing. 

If government guidelines allow, go for a coffee or even hop onto a group Zoom call. 

Additionally, there are also plenty of Facebook groups for freelancers where you can meet like-minded people. 

5. Take time for yourself 

Looking after yourself is key to combating stress. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, resting and exercising. 

To avoid a burnout, make sure you’re getting a least eight hours of sleep. Your body needs time to relax and recharge. 

As well as sleeping, eating your five a day does you a world of good. Junk food and fast food might be the easiest option however, they heavily impact your wellbeing. This as a result impacts your mental health. 

Knowing when to rest is also very important. Make sure you give yourself time to yourself and switch off. 

To stay active and keep your body moving you don’t have to go to the gym. It could be a walk or run during your lunch break. Exercising helps to boost your mood, release endorphins and increase serotonin levels. 

There are also plenty of apps dedicated to mental health such as Headspace. 

Going through the emotions of stress and depression is normal for freelancers. However, it’s being aware of it and the way you deal with it which helps you to improve and maintain your mental health.

Do you have any additional tips to help with mental health as a freelancer?

Sources:

* https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.XZ9OYkZKiCg

** https://blog.viking-direct.co.uk/freelancer-loneliness-survey

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