How Do I Protect My Mental Health As a Freelancer?

Freelancing has become a more popular career choice than ever in recent years.

As technology continues to advance, the gig economy continues to grow.

How Do I Protect My Mental Health As a Freelancer?

There’s no question as to why –freelancing comes with plenty of benefits!

It can be tempting to work from the couch each day, and while some people can make that work, you’ll be at a greater risk of getting distracted.

You can enjoy a more flexible schedule, work with clients that meet your needs, and essentially be your own boss.

However, for all of its benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to freelancing that not everyone considers right away.

Being your own boss also means all of the pressure is on your shoulders to make things work.

On top of that, it can be difficult to strike a healthy work-life balance, and if you’re just starting out, you might find that you’re not making as steady of an income as you’d like while you’re trying to build up clients.

All of those issues can take a toll on your mental health.

Thankfully, there are things you can do as you work from home that will protect your mental health and improve your overall well-being.

Whether you’re new to freelancing or you’ve been doing it for a while and you’ve noticed it’s started to take its toll, put some of these tips into practice to boost your mental wellness and make the most of your career.

Set Up an Ideal Workspace

If you’re going to be a full-time freelancer, it’s essential to have a workspace that helps you feel productive, creative, and motivated.

While you don’t necessarily need an entire room to use as an office space, you should have an area that is distraction-free and specifically designated for your job.

It can be tempting to work from the couch each day, and while some people can make that work, you’ll be at a greater risk of getting distracted.

An efficient and effective home office system should include things like natural light, ergonomic furniture, a desk, a file cabinet or baskets to keep things organized, and the right technological gear so you can do your job easily. Beyond that, make your office space your own!

Let your personality shine through pictures, artwork, and decor, so you’re excited to get into your space and start working every day.

Take Breaks and Recognize the Signs of Burnout

One of the perks of being a freelancer is being able to set your own hours.

However, when you have a goal of making a certain amount of money each month, or you’ve got tight deadlines to reach, you might end up working more hours than you would at a traditional office job.

There can be a lot of pressure that comes with being your own boss.

All of the responsibilities fall on you, which can cause you to work long hours every day.

It’s essential to take breaks for your well-being. Set a timer on your phone or computer to get up and stretch for five minutes at least once an hour.

Take a longer break a few times each day and use it to eat a healthy lunch or snack, and spend some time outside. Even a few minutes outdoors can improve both your mental and physical health.

You’ll experience benefits like:

  • Boosted energy
  • Greater creativity
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Better focus
  • Improved mood
  • Improved confidence and self-esteem

If you’re not allowing yourself regular breaks and you’re working too much, you might start to experience burnout. Some of the common symptoms include excessive stress, fatigue, insomnia, and irritability.

You might start to feel resentment toward your work, and experience a lack of motivation.

Chances are, you started freelancing because you love what you do.

Don’t work so much that you end up hating it. Recognizing the signs of burnout early on will help you make positive changes – like taking more breaks, and practicing self-care every day.

Find a Healthy Work-Life Balance

While we briefly mentioned that finding a good work-life balance can be difficult for freelancers, it’s not something you should gloss over quickly.

Even if you’re not necessarily working too many hours, some freelancers struggle with establishing a routine that allows for a strong work-life balance.

Maybe you stay up late watching your favorite shows, so you don’t wake up until noon the next day. Unfortunately, that can throw off your entire workday.

You might get started late, panic about meeting deadlines, and end up working late into the evening. Essentially, that starts the vicious cycle all over again.

When you don’t have a good work-life balance, not only is it nearly impossible to take care of yourself, but you could end up feeling isolated and lonely.

Getting face-to-face interaction as a freelancer is crucial, and when you feel like you don’t have time for it, it can severely impact your mental health.

You can strike a healthy work-life balance by establishing a daily routine and sticking with it.

Obviously, that looks different for everyone.

However, your routine might include things like:

  • Waking up at the same time each day
  • Eating a healthy breakfast
  • Exercising
  • Practicing mindfulness/meditation
  • Journaling
  • Working for a few solid hours each morning
  • Taking a break for lunch
  • Finishing work by a set time each day
  • Spending time with family/friends

Once you find a routine that works for you, you might be surprised by the positive impact it has on your work life, as well as your personal life.

You’ll feel more well-rested, happier, and more productive each day.

Reach Out for Help

As you can see, there are several factors about freelancing that can negatively impact your mental health.

If you haven’t been taking care of your mental well-being the way you should, it might be time to consider reaching out for professional help.

A professional can help you get to the root cause of your mental health struggles.

They’ll work with you to develop strategies that can help you manage those struggles on a daily basis.

However, not all mental health professionals do the same things. It’s important to find someone who can meet your needs and give you the help you deserve.

For example, psychiatrists can diagnose and prescribe mental health conditions, and they can recommend other medical examinations.

Therapists and counselors can help with short-term and long-term issues, typically working through conversations and developing strategies that will make your symptoms easier to manage.

Don’t be afraid to do your research on different mental health titles to determine which is right for you.

A career in freelancing can be exciting and fulfilling, but only if you prioritize your mental wellness.

Use these tips to protect your mental health, and you’ll feel your best while taking charge of your dream career.

Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he's learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work.

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