It’s estimated that over 1 billion freelancers are working around the globe, with millions of them working from home. The popularity and continued growth of freelancing shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, there are plenty of benefits.
Freelancing typically allows for more flexibility. It allows you to be your own boss, work with specific clients, and have a better handle on your work-life balance.
Unfortunately, there are also some potential drawbacks. Research has shown that those who work from home are often at a greater risk of feeling isolated. That can lead to mental health issues like depression, or even anxiety.
Now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, that risk may be even greater if you find yourself working remotely and having to isolate yourself more than usual. So, what can you do to improve your mental health when you’re a freelancer?
Change Your Environment
Most freelancers work from home. That’s one of the greatest benefits. But, it can also be a risk if you don’t have the right environment set up. When you work at home, it’s easy to become distracted by everyday comforts. It’s tempting to wake up and take your computer to the couch, only to get sucked into your favorite television show or get caught up in conversation with other family members or roommates.
Unfortunately, that can end up causing extra stress if you get behind on your work. It’s also not good for your work-life balance, since the lines can easily become blurred. So, it’s important to have a designated workspace within your home to increase productivity and keep you from feeling burnt out.
If you already have your own workspace, take a look around. Is it conducive to a positive mental health state? No one wants to work where it’s dark, dreary, and uninspiring. Your workspace should be a place that makes you feel good and content each day. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to make small changes that can make a big difference, including:
- Utilizing as much natural light as possible.
- Using color psychology to paint the room colors that inspire you.
- Keeping things tidy and organized.
- Bringing live plants into your space.
It can also help to change up your environment now and then. If you’re working alone in the same space each day, why not switch it up once a week and go somewhere public? Social enrichment is extremely beneficial for your mental health. Even going to your favorite coffee shop to work for a few hours can help you to feel more fulfilled, simply by being around other people. Be sure to check your local social distancing regulations before venture out in public. You don’t want to endanger yourself or others just to get a social fix if you can get that by being with your friends or family.
It’s easy to ignore your mental (and physical) health when you’re working at home because you’re so distracted by other things. But, taking care of yourself regularly is so important, not only for your career but for your personal life.
Self-care comes in many forms, and it’s so much more than just a buzzword. By trying different things, you can discover what works for you in terms of improving your mental state. For some people, it can be unwinding each night with a book. For others, things like yoga or meditation make a big difference.
Physical activity is a great way to improve your mental health. Something as simple as a walk around your neighborhood each day can boost your mood, give you more energy, and improve your creativity so you’ll feel less stressed about your work.
In addition to finding little ways to take care of yourself each day, consider forming regular healthy habits. Develop a routine that you follow each day. Wake up at the same time and go to sleep at the same time. Give yourself things to look forward to, and understand that at the end of each workday, you can take some time for yourself to unwind and relax. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re not prone to mental health issues. So, take your well being seriously and discover what works to keep you calm and content.
When you’re a full-time freelancer, it’s a good idea to treat yourself as a business or a brand. One of the potential drawbacks freelancers face is job uncertainty. With COVID-19 affecting so many businesses, that uncertainty may be even greater now than before.
So, it’s the perfect time to “rebrand” yourself to try to capture some of that security. Like any other business, you should take the time to market yourself and what you do. The gig economy is saturated, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stand out from your competitors. Simple ways to upgrade your marketing efforts include:
- Creating or updating your website
- Focusing on SEO
- Staying on top of social media
- Updating your resume
It’s also a good time to network with others, the same way you would if you were working for a big business. By connecting with those in your industry who could either use your services or by getting advice from other freelancers, you can continue to push forward and find financial success. The less you have to worry about your finances and getting enough work, the less likely it is for stress and anxiety to overwhelm you.
Focusing on the perks and benefits of freelancing is okay, especially when you know you’re good at what you do. But, make your mental health a priority and realize that freelancing isn’t perfect. Keep these ideas in mind as you move forward in your career, so you can avoid some of the stresses that can sometimes come with freelance work.