5 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health as a Freelancer
Over the course of this year, the idea of freelancing and remote working has become widespread, with people all over the world – and across a vast range of fields – finding their career path taking a sudden turn. And, according to an article penned for LinkedIn News, this is set to become the norm, with the world-famous employment site posting 25% more freelance roles since the pandemic. But with this change in the job market comes a drastic change in lifestyle.
There is so much to be said for the freedom and creativity that goes hand-in-hand with freelancing. Whatever your profession, working remotely allows you to establish a work-life balance which suits your personal needs and goals, and often allows you a great deal of autonomy in terms of your business decisions. But the freelance lifestyle presents a unique set of challenges, particularly when it comes to mental health. Sometimes an incredibly lonely career choice, which usually involves a large amount of time spent working from home, it is easy, as a freelancer, to let your mental health slip into the sidelines. But keeping your mind and body healthy and happy will benefit you greatly – both in your professional and personal life!
Learning from my own experience, after more than 2 years of freelancing, I wanted to compile a list of the most effective ways to take care of your mental health as a freelancer. Read on for my 5 top tips.
1. Give yourself regular breaks
It may seem like a given, but allowing yourself regular breaks from work is beneficial for a number of reasons. Primarily, it will help you get back to work feeling refreshed, recharged, and more productive – even after just ten minutes. As a freelancer, when left to structure your own day, it’s tempting to just keep working for as long as possible, in order to meet a deadline or get ahead on a project; try to avoid this. During these breaks, make sure to move away from your desk or work area, too.
2. Reach out to others
Freelancing can sometimes be incredibly lonely – especially if you choose not to work from a coworking space or office. Try to develop a network of like-minded ‘colleagues’ in your field – even digitally! This allows you to discuss new ideas, voice frustrations, or even ask questions you’re unsure of; it also renders you less isolated, and can help you realise that you are not alone in your worries or concerns. Make sure that you are reaching out to at least one other person each day, whether that’s an old friend, or someone from your freelancing network.
3. Move your body at least once a day
Once you’ve signed off for the day, it’s easy to crumble onto the sofa and start binging the latest Netflix drama. Whilst this may sometimes be the perfect ending to a long, stressful day, it’s incredibly important for your mental health to get moving in some way. Whether that means going out for a walk accompanied by a good podcast, following an at-home workout session, or heading to the gym, exercise will help you clear your mind. It also tends to help you sleep better at night.
4. Don't burn yourself out
As freelancers, it’s tempting to just keep working until you physically can’t keep your eyes open any longer. It’s also difficult to take holidays, or to give yourself time off, without dragging your laptop around with you. There’s often a sense of guilt associated with spending a day away from work – but remember that taking time away is imperative to your mental and physical health. Listen to your body: if you wake up one day and feel as if you’re not able to work, then cut yourself some slack. After all, you get to decide your own hours: make the most of this!
5. Stop comparing yourself to others
Imposter syndrome is a huge problem among freelancers. It’s sometimes easy to convince yourself that you don’t know what you’re doing, or that others are doing it better than you. Just try to remember that everyone is following their own path, at their own pace. Telling someone to ‘stop comparing themselves’ to others in their field is much easier said than done, but it’s true: remember that everyone is going through the same ups and downs, and that the best you can do is to make the decisions that are right for you and for your business.