Today, more than 300 million people around the world live and work with depression. What’s more important is that one in six people have to deal with a common mental health issue such as anxiety, OCD, PTSD and depression at the workplace. Some of those suffering from the mental conditions often look into freelancing/remote work as an option to reduce some of the stress and burn-out.
Indeed, a remote work arrangement often enables you to establish better work/life balance; spend more time with family and reduce the pressure/distractions of working in large open offices. But freelancing also comes with an emotional toll. Stress and on-the-job burnouts are no strangers to the independent worker.
Per recent survey conducted by Epson in the U.K., 48% of freelancers working from home admitted that they find their tenure to be “lonely” at times and 46% claim freelancing is “isolating.” Indeed, freelancing can aggravate your mental health issues unless you invest in establishing healthy routines. Here are four essential tips to help you work in that direction.
1. Learn how to negotiate with yourself
Being your own boss means that you will be answering to the toughest person in the world — yourself. What’s even worse, that “boss” always stays with you in the background. You can’t leave your desk, go to a bar and vent out to a friend about “that jerk you are working for.”
A lot of freelancers are guilty of being very critical of themselves, constantly nitpicking on the never-quite-done work or lack of commitment. As a result, they constantly remain anxious and stressed.
To avoid this scenario, learn how to negotiate with that critic sitting inside you. Get better at creating more realistic daily to do lists; celebrate your accomplishments every day and practice gratitude. Cognitive scientists say that people who regularly do the “three good things” exercise — name three good moments or things that happened during the day — witness considerable improvements in mental health and overall happiness. So give it a try as well!
2. Socialize beyond your niche
Socialization and networking are often prescribed as the best recipe for dealing with the “lonely freelancer” syndrome. “Regularly interacting with other people is utterly important for those working solo,” said Cynthia Telles, Director, UCLA Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence. “However, despite the common line of advice, freelancers should stop seeking company of other freelancers. When the people you see the most experience the same woes and deal with the same anxieties, you can find yourself trapped into a feedback loop of pressure and stress, aggravated by the experience of your peers.”
Make sure that you connect with people who have nothing to do with your industry or lifestyle. This way you open up yourself to more diverse and positive influences and stop feeling confined to the “same old, same old” routines.
3. Budget for more expensive forms of self-care
When at a low mental state, a lot of us feel that we don’t deserve any “treat,” even if those commodities can help us feel better and healthier. That’s a mistake you want to avoid, according to Rena Greenberg’s video on The Energy Secret. Free “mental boosting” activities such as taking walks or doing guided meditation at home or drinking more water are easier to schedule on your agenda. But do muster the courage to splurge on more expensive self-care items once in a while.
Investing in better things for yourself — a more comfortable chair, a better laptop, warmer socks — means investing in your business. The better you feel on a daily basis, the more motivated you are to do the work and earn more money.
4. Learn how to handle rejection
Fear of rejection and criticism is one of the common issues holding people back from becoming freelancers. Working for yourself means that every negative comment will land right in front of you. A lot choose gig or freelancing work as a better way to channel their passion for design, writing or coding. And that’s why rejection and criticism for freelancers often feels more personal than for corporate employees.
Frequent rejections also undermine your confidence, motivation and can ultimately worsen your mental state. So you will need to find some coping mechanisms that work for you. Beverly Flaxington suggests trying the following techniques:
- Practice reframing. Change the narrative from, “I’m talentless, no one will hire me!” to a more positive statement, “Finding the first freelance job is hard for everyone. I’m no different.”
- Channel your self-confidence. Make a daily list of things that you’ve done well. Regularly review your achievement and celebrate them.
But here’s some good news as well: learning how to deal with rejection strengthens your mental health. A stronger mental health means that you can resist other daily downers and remain productive and contemporary with your line of work.