4 Easy Ways to Care for Your Mental Health as a Freelancer
People switch from their fulltime job to freelancing thinking they would enjoy the freedom that comes with it. They are lured by the expectations of improved work-life balance and the ability to choose their own working hours. And to further add to their eagerness, we have “influencers” who post photos of themselves working by exotic beaches and in the mountains. The perks of freelancing are something most of us wouldn’t want to miss. This has resulted in a 4.2% year on year increase in the number of freelancers across the United States, which is expected to reach 90.1 million by 2028. But when you observe from a distance, you might fail to notice some harsh realities of being an independent worker. In reality, things may go south pretty quickly for you in the freelance world. Apart from the troubles of finding enough work and managing your finance, it’s your mental health that you’ll find the toughest to manage and care for. You may not even realize as you lose track of things — a con of not having anyone as your boss — and start spoiling your mental health. This would further affect both your professional and personal life. Before that happens, here are some actionable tips you must follow to promise yourself great mental health and thrive as a freelancer.
Socialize as Often as Possible
The first thing that your freelance career takes away from you is socialization. You may end up spending days or even weeks without meeting and talking to a single living soul. And initially, it might not seem like an issue. You’ll tell yourself that you are too busy to be going out and meeting anyone. It might not even occur to you when your absolute isolation from a social life starts to take a toll on your mental health. This is common to the extent that almost 64% of the freelancers admit to feeling lonely on a daily basis. As a result, 54% of freelancers have to deal with depression due to their work. Hence, to save yourself the trouble, make sure you take days off every week to meet people in real life. Even better if you can manage to spend at least an hour or two of your day with your friends or family.
Set a Work Schedule
You may consider the freedom to choose your work-hour as one of the primary benefits of freelancing. But most often, you would end up working more hours as a freelancer than you did in your fulltime job. The reason is quite obvious: you are a one-person business. Apart from working on projects, you need to market your services on social media, send emails to prospects and follow up with them, attend client calls and so on. Considering how much work you have to do, it could be a real mess if only you fail to schedule your work and abide by it. You might find yourself working on projects when you were supposed to hit the gym or you could be attending a client call when you were supposed to have lunch. To make sure you don’t overwork yourself and eventually burnout, experiment working on different schedules and find the times when you work most efficiently. Once you figure it out, stick to it and assign the rest of the time to other activities.
Treat Rejections as a Part of Business
You might have faced a few rejections while searching for a fulltime job. And as it is, rejections suck. As a freelancer, however, you will face 10 or maybe 100 times more rejections than you did before. It is because you’ll be hunting freelance gigs almost every day during the first few months of your career. And truth be told, when you are new and learning, your success rate of converting prospects into clients is considerably low. To make sure that the innumerous rejections (I had a fair share of them) don’t affect your mental health, you must learn to manage them. You need to outgrow the natural feeling of being “worthless” that humans experience right after a rejection. You must also take lessons and, if possible, ask prospects for why they chose to not work with you. Once you know the reason for your failure, you have a better chance of improvising and trying better.
Compare Only to Learn
It’s extremely “human” to compare ourselves to others. You must have done it too and felt sad about how successful others are while you are just an average person in the crowd. It’s no secret; sometimes we all feel depressed about not being as successful as some random person in the universe. In the freelancing world, you’ll find many people doing extraordinarily well. But rather than envying them or demeaning yourself for not being at the same level, make sure you learn from them. They too were once in the same place where you are. So, try figuring out what they did to be where they are today. There must be a video or a blog or social media posts where they share their story and explain how you can do it too. Find it and learn from it. You only grow when you learn more and improvise on your present practices. Because remember, there’s always a better way to do things.