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“You should look after your mental health at work,” you’ve heard the saying many times, but what if your work is at home in a little box room?
As freelancers, we often think that being on your own and doing your own thing is great. You’d think that moving away from terrible work environments, work politics, and sometimes even the intense stresses of deadlines would make freelancing less stressful.
But the reality is that freelancing can be a lonely journey that increases your stress and anxiety while also putting a strain on your mental health.
So, don’t let freelancing become a source of stress for you. Here are some strategies to manage mental health as a freelancer:
Learn to say ‘No’
This is one of the most common mistakes made by freelancers. They aim to make money from any old client. This means that you say ‘Yes’ to whatever job they offer without understanding that you would burn out in the long run and for what, peanuts?
You decided to go freelance because you wanted more freedom and time, but by saying yes, you are now working 60-70 hours a week. Don’t accept any extra work; it will be challenging, stressful, and require you to put in longer hours.
Working as a freelancer allows you to work with the clients you desire and who share your beliefs.
So, if it doesn’t match your schedule and you’re not completely satisfied with the client or the scope, just say ‘NO’.
Get enough quality sleep
Whatever you do, getting enough sleep is critical for both your mental and physical well-being. Sleep is essential for your health; there have been several studies and research done on how sleep affects your brain.
It is easier said than done; many individuals suffer from insomnia and find it difficult to sleep.
A good night’s sleep is essential for general health and well-being. Here are some of the advantages of getting quality sleep:
- Enhanced mood
- Physical health
- Weight management
- Increased energy and productivity
- Stress reduction
With all these benefits, why wouldn’t you want to get quality sleep?
Mental health impacts your brain as well as your physical health. It’s simple to sit inactive and work, but your physical health is linked to your emotional well-being.
As a freelancer, you can decide your own working hours. So, why not take some time off to focus on your physical well-being? Get out of your chair and do some exercise, or go for a walk with your dog if you have one. You may even try joining a gym or doing home workouts, but whatever you do, keep active.
Yoga and meditation are great strategies to reduce stress and improve your mental health. I myself was sceptical at first, but a daily consistent practice has helped me overcome underlying mental health issues.
How does your gut feel?
Gut health has been related to mental health conditions but, if you eat and drink healthily, it can provide you with the comfort you need.
When you work from home, it’s easy to eat a lot of processed food because, let’s face it, quick and convenient is a go-to for a busy life. This, however, is not a good idea for your mental health. Overeating processed, refined-sugar-laden meals may leave you feeling drained and exhausted.
Change your diet to incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies rather than the quick and simple option. Combine this with frequent water intervals, and you’ll be well on your way to feeling energised all day!
Many freelancers, as you may know, rely on coffee to get them through the day. Don’t overdo it, as this might cause stress and anxiety. Having a cup of coffee in the morning is not a bad idea because caffeine provides many health benefits.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and need nourishing food to calm you down, there are several foods that can help you de-stress.
With a never-ending list of things to do, staying at your desk might get exhausting. Work and socialising should always be scheduled, thus the term “work-life balance.” Having unlimited control over your time as a freelancer, you should experiment with different ways to see what works best for you and when.
One way that works wonders for your mental health is to take time off from work and stay in touch with people you care about. It is one of the most effective ways to maintain a positive outlook on life and balance your mental health.
Don’t get caught up with too many tasks, that can lead to burnout. Plan your schedule so that you can enjoy the benefits of freelancing. After all, you picked this path to have more time and a better work-life balance.
And if you’re an introvert like myself, there are other methods to socialise as well. With there being something for everyone, don’t be scared to pick socialising to improve your mental health as a freelancer.
Set realistic goals
Working as a freelancer is exhilarating, but you must also put in the effort and set realistic goals. You may compare your life to that of someone who has been freelancing for over a decade. It is easy to get caught up and start comparing oneself to others, which leads to setting goals that are out of reach.
Many freelancers experience this, and they become burned out, which leads to mental health problems. Not to mention the first point about saying ‘YES‘ to every project and accepting more than you can handle.
Be honest with yourself about how much work you can handle. Don’t promise clients that you’ll do it in a day when you have two other tasks scheduled for the same day. This will cause you a great deal of stress and will also interfere with work for all your clients. Take it easy on yourself, and your mental health will take it easy on you.
Take regular breaks
Having a regular break schedule could help with your mental health. It’s not all about eating healthy or going for a walk, but moving away from your desk and screen could prove beneficial to your eyes.
If you work at a desk most of the day, take a 5-minute break every hour. You may also include the 20-20-20 rule into your daily routine to offer your eyes some much-needed rest.
Breaks allow your body and mind to recover, enabling you to return to work with fresh energy and motivation. This will benefit your mental health as well as refresh your eyes from gazing at a screen.
Making a daily to-do list and tackling the most difficult aspects of your day first may help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by what there is to do.
Having too much on your plate during the day might have an impact on your mental health. As a result, it is better to stay organised and take regular breaks in between too.
Clutter and distractions may also trigger stress, so keep your workspace neat and tidy. Don’t allow stuff like books, grocery receipts, food, games, and photographs to accumulate on your desk.
Finally, being on top of your finances is critical since it could raise your stress levels. We all have money worries that we don’t talk about or acknowledge. So, take care of this matter and manage your accounts and wallet by keeping on top of it.
There are many ways you can manage your mental health as a freelancer. It can appear stressful at times, but the thrill of being your own boss and having the ability to set your own schedule is the ultimate feeling.
Stress, worry, and burnout can all make you feel tired and uninspired. But setting your own time and establishing a work-life balance, will leave you feeling happier, healthier, and more successful in your freelancing journey.
So, as a freelancer, take care of your mental health and achieve your goals one step at a time. Don’t rush and don’t burn out.
There are many other ways to help you de-stress and even some types of food help you with that.