It would not be much of a revelation to say that most working adults find their work to be the major source of stress in their lives. Nowadays, during these global pandemic times, has the situation changed? Whilst many are switching to new working regimes and adapting to the changed schedules, facing new opportunities and challenges, the amount of stress we are facing grows exponentially.
But what about freelancers? It is often assumed that this is the category that contains occupations that will save your nerves and ease your life. A freelancer is often portrayed as a completely unburdened individual with a laptop, working from home on a flexible basis. Another widespread image – a freelancer (again with a laptop), sipping coconut water on the beach after finding a way to break out of the 9-5.
In the light of such portrayals, how is it even imaginable that there are numerous mental health issues and stressors to deal with in freelancing? Unfortunately, there are quite a few.
In accordance with recent studies, self-employment brings such stressors as higher job insecurity and poor work-life balance when compared to standard employment health influence. Does this increasing flow of negative statistics sentences freelancers to work-related mental health issues and high stress levels? Not necessarily, if you know how to prevent burn-out and mentally cope with your freelance work-related tensity that draws upon your nerves.
In this article, we have summed up 5 ways that will help you to deal with difficulties that are part and parcel of any freelance work.
Let’s take a look at what can be done to reduce your work-related stress.
1. Avoid working in isolation (unless necessary)
Freelancing doesn’t necessarily mean working from home. Commonly, having a home office is merely an opportunity, so there is no need to voluntarily lock yourself up (especially now, since the news on COVID-19 and the consequent need to stay at home are changing daily).
Grasp an opportunity to socialize while you can! Our advice is to find a suitable co-working space – there is a great variety to choose from. Also, your favorite cozy cafe or a library make great candidates for your list of shared workspaces.
2. Manage your working hours
Time management is everything when it comes to self-employment. Set your work hours and work during them; sounds easy, huh? Well, it is definitely easier said than done.
Do you know when you are the most productive? Try scheduling your tasks around these hours.
Remember, if you procrastinate, postponing all the workload up to the deadline – you will not feel good about yourself. Moreover, such a habit will not take long before taking a toll on your mental health.
Here is how you should go about it:
- break your work into smaller tasks,
- prioritize the most urgent and important ones,
- do not let yourself shift the beginning of your ‘office hours’.
All these simple solutions will help you to be more productive and less stressed. In case you feel you might use some extra help with planning and time management, there are numerous apps such as Timely, Pomodoro, BeFocused, etc., available free of charge.
3. Make exercise a priority
Exercising on a regular basis is a significant contribution to your mental health. Besides the fact that a healthy body makes a healthy spirit, a quick workout within the limits of your capabilities clears the mind, as well as relieves stress. If you are a firm believer that sports and exercises are not for you, just take a walk – see for yourself that even this little is enough to make all the difference. Emma Brown, HR manager of this photo retouching studio, where all employees also work remotely due to COVID-19, says that the introduction of such breaks that go through ZOOM helped to improve the working atmosphere in the company already in the second week after implementation.
4. Clear your mind
Taking breaks to stretch out during sedentary work is essential. Taking breaks to unwind and clear your mind is no less important to reduce stress levels in order to take care of your mental health.
Many health professionals say that stress is the root cause of many health-related problems. To put it in simple terms – stress makes people sick: it increases the risk of everything from catching a common cold to suffer cardiovascular diseases.
Breathing exercises, meditations, or dedicating 15 minutes to reading a paperback book are simple, however, effective solutions. They have proven their effectiveness either as a preventive measure or at the moments when you are already struggling with anxiety.
“Dealing with mental health in freelance work might be a daunting business. Resilience in the face of difficulties and persistence in overcoming them – these are the skills that make a real professional” – shares Timothy Byers, Head of Content at Adsy. Training your mind will help to avoid letting stress have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing.
5. Maintain a work-life balance
We have already mentioned this bit, since it is, to a certain extent, an underlying theme of the whole article. Having a balanced work-life is about setting priorities of what is crucial at a given time.
Dedicate your attention to what you are going through at the moment, trying to be present in that very moment and doing your best to live it to the fullest. We cannot stress the importance of this rule enough: separate your work and life as much as possible to be of utmost productivity at work as well as living it behind the closed door when possible for your personal time.
Do not get into the habit of pushing through all the time. And if you feel that your work is taking a toll on your health, make sure you are living a healthy lifestyle, keeping a proper life-work balance, and diligently following the above recommendations.