Being a freelancer is not waking up to a beach with a fresh brew of coffee. There’s a lot more that goes in working as a self-reliant individual.
No matter how much we romanticize working on our own, in our cool P.Js, at one’s convenience, there is still a constant rush of thoughts in a freelancer's mind.
Work on weekends or this is not going to work!
You have to juggle multiple projects or the work will dry.
You need to connect with new people or your future projects may be in danger.
These are only a few of them.
After a while, the fear of walking in the unknown affects our mental health. That’s when we start to ignore the voice that often reminds us “Hey! you did all you could do today, relax”.
Think about it (now I always do).
Your mental health needs more attention than ever. As someone who had suffered from anxiety disorder for a long time, I found that the benefits and the drawbacks of freelancing lifestyle are equal.
Mental peace is the present day success. And that’s not new, a sane mind and body are health goals for many freelancers.
Here are 6 ways to prioritize your mental health from a freelancer to all freelancers even when you’re jam-packed with work.
Say 'Yes' to Your Musts
There’s a huge difference between things 'you must do’ and things ‘you can do’.
For example: replying to every email counts in your cans, not your musts.
It does no good to your mind and drains your energy. The global news, the political debates and the next big thing are all part of this.
Indirectly, it pushes some buttons of your mind and stresses you out.
Instead of constant replies and round-the-clock scrolling. Make your musts lists in a notebook.
These are the things you must do for your peace of mind. Period!
Invest in Right Work-from-Home Space
Now you must be thinking, I’m here to get my job done, not build a co-working space.
I get you!
But what if I tell you that investing in your health is not a squander thing to do?
Entire day we sit on our laptop with a poor posture (lying on our cozy sofa). We don’t even realize it’s consequences like severe back pain and strain on our neck muscles.
The surprising factor is, bad posture affects our mood and also the thoughts. In a recent study, the increase of collapsed sitting led to the rise of depression in recent years. In the long run, it’s a bad idea for your freelancing lifestyle.
I get it, a fancy laptop and high-speed Wi-Fi should be your first real-time investment but spend some bucks on high-quality durable chairs for your mind and body.
Move that Body!
I know, I know you don’t have time. But the up-shots of moving your body is endless. You become limitless without taking the limitless pill.
Blocking your calendar or more importantly having a gym partner can help you get out of your little bubble which includes clients, projects, deadlines and sometimes your mind.
This is my story in 2020: No proper sleep, no exercise, always hunched in my laptop, made my mind sick and my creativity graph bumped down.
Your mind needs dopamine’s kick not from mindless scrolling rather than getting out in nature. Not a gym person? That’s ok.
Take a stroll in your neighborhood park. The goal here is to not look good or shredded but to keep your mind healthy and moving.
Don’t Be Afraid of Breaks
Who all can relate to this? (I am already in).
But until I heard Tom Bilyeu podcast with Brendon Burchard, who quoted “World-class performers always take more breaks during their work hours than others (every 52 min)”.
This changed my perspective towards the freelance lifestyle. As freelancers, we fear that if we take breaks, we may fall behind rather it’s the opposite.
When you take breaks: Go for a spa, a movie or take a day off, watch harry potter or inception, I mean your choice, you rejuvenate.
You make space for your mental health, which acts as a fuel for your mind. When you come back after this mentally cathartic break, your work rocket is ready to launch.
As a freelancer, self-employed professional and solopreneurs; you will always find yourself in a dilemma. Whether it’s taking multiple projects, managing clients’ expectations or saying no to others.
You always have to come back to square one and start again. This can take a toll on your mental health. And these are the days when your mental health strength comes into play.
Try to make things simple, easier said than done! right?
But if you’re self-aware that working late nights works for you, do you. If working on challenging projects works for you, do you. If marketing on one channel works for you, do you.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Sending 100 pitches a day will lead to burn-out.
Give your best to what's in front of you. Remember, everything works but what works for you is all that matters.
Learn to Say No!
Remember the days when someone knocks at your door with immediate tasks or bulky projects and you already have a lot on your plate.
It’s important to say no but before that, it’s more important to learn how to say no.
No to extra emails, no to another big project and a big no to late-night calls.
Here’s how you can turn down a project when it's not the best fit for you:
1 When you don’t get along
It seems like they are messing ( not giving much work or late payments).
Be honest: tell them “I don’t see we’re best fit for this project right now. I have few committed projects I want to work on, maybe we can try sometimes else to have an association in future”.
2 When you have too many projects
Recommend someone else, tell them “ I don’t think I can help you with this right now, But I would love to shortly, but right now I have few more promises to keep. What I can do is refer someone great who can do this work”, well done!
Don’t be afraid to turn down the work that is messing with your mental peace.
In a nutshell, freelancers are more susceptible to stress, anxiety and burn out because of our muddled up lifestyle. Still, you can find your little therapy box amid this work chaos.
Take some time out just to see the world beyond work.
And never forget “Be gentle with yourself”.