Being a freelance writer has many benefits: flexible work hours, the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, and career development at one’s own pace. But freelancing doesn’t come without challenges.
Anxiety is an occupational hazard for many freelancers. Everything rides on their ability to deliver – and there’s no safety net.
Freelance assignments often come in waves and clients can pull the rug out from under you at any point. If your client’s company takes a hit, then you feel that hit too. If your client has a surge of new hires, your work goes up too. Freelance work is never consistent, and that lack of consistency can lead to a lot of freelancers to develop moderate to severe anxiety.
Anxiety is a widespread issue in the United States. For example, 70% of survey respondents revealed feelings of overwhelming anxiety during a recent Pew Research study.
Freelancers who manage the full weight of running a sole proprietorship must find constructive ways to manage anxiety.
By establishing effective guidelines for how you conduct business, you can find a balance between the demands of freelancing and your personal needs.
The following are six ways to manage anxiety as a freelancer.
1) Mingle With Like-Minded Souls
It helps to associate with people who struggle with similar obstacles. By connecting with a group of like-minded professionals, you can find the support that you need to overcome career challenges and bouts of anxiety. Every freelancer is different and approaches their mental health in different ways, so utilizing those networks can actually help you learn from the successes and strategies of folk in similar boats.
A freelance support network is a healthy way of overcoming some of the challenges of self-employment. It’s highly beneficial to communicate with others who can empathize with your experiences. As a freelancer, you don’t really have traditional coworkers, so it definitely helps to surround yourself with professionals who can help you succeed in your field.
2) Find Your Balance
Inadequate work-life balance is especially problematic in America. It’s something that many professionals aspire toward without success. For instance, 66% of recently surveyed adults expressed that they do not believe they maintain a satisfactory work-life balance.
Many freelancers work from home, and this makes it hard for freelancers to separate work time from personal time. If you’re always inhabiting the same spaces, it becomes unclear when your body should relax. Creating a home office is an essential step in trying to make sure you create clear distinctions between work and life. Working at coffee shops or coworking spaces is an even better way to draw the line.
Often, poor work-life balance results in missed or unsatisfactory experiences with loved ones. The clear separation between weekend and evening time is always clear for freelancers who often work at odd hours of the day. While this flexibility is one of the main appeals of freelance work, it’s also a key factor in causing freelancers to miss out on events and activities that happen in the traditional off-hours for most workers.
As a freelancer, you must preserve the time needed to deal with important personal matters. You can regain work-life balance by learning not to overschedule your work and drawing clear lines between personal time and work time.
3) You’re Not an Imposter!
Studies show that 70% of all professionals have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. Many freelancers suffer from imposter syndrome without even realizing it.
During networking events or while browsing LinkedIn, it’s natural to compare your accomplishments to those of others. You’ll always come across other professionals with a long list of achievements compared to yours. When this happens, it’s normal to feel under accomplished – that’s imposter syndrome.
Freelancers don’t always have clear career paths and benchmarks, so it’s tough to know when you’re achieving a new career milestone. It becomes easy to downplay your own accomplishments and idolize the accomplishments of your peers.
Instead of giving in to the temptation to doubt your abilities, give yourself credit for your achievements. Create a clear list of goals for a certain time period and feel proud of yourself when you achieve them. Professionals build their careers over time, not overnight. What’s important is that you can do your job well.
4) You May Wear Many Hats, but You Only Have Two Hands
Guilt is a considerable problem for freelancers, especially in America. Most American adults subscribe to the philosophy that more work equates to more accomplishment. The hustle brag has become more and more common especially among younger workers. The idea that you have to always be working to be seen as more successful is harmful to freelancers.
It’s easy for many freelancers to feel guilty for creating a sensible schedule. Many times, eight hours of work doesn’t feel like enough, and something feels wrong about taking days off on the weekend or time off in the evenings when there’s more work that you could do.
Because of this cultural norm, many freelancers spend their off time during non-income producing work, or their day off may include continually checking their email. It’s not working – but yet it is.
Break these bad habits. By giving yourself time to rest, you can recharge and have a productive week ahead. Use digital timers and notification settings to block out work reminders and emails when you’ve designated your break time. And when it’s work time, try your best to stick to that work schedule and not allow any personal tasks to distract you.
Just remind yourself that by taking a break now, you can do more and better quality work later.
5) Make a Schedule – and Stick to It!
As a freelancer, it’s easy to decide to put off work until the weekend. It typically starts with feeling tired one day and putting off an assignment until the weekend.
Over time, a one-weekend assignment turns into two, and then two jobs turn into two full days of work over the weekend. Before you know it, you haven’t seen a weekend off in a month. Now you’re burnt out and questioning why you ever decided to freelance.
This scenario emphasizes the importance of sticking to a schedule. By sticking to a schedule, your clients know what to expect and you can maintain your sanity.
As a freelancer, you have the flexibility to create your own schedule. If you produce the best writing at 10 AM and no earlier than that, then you can craft a schedule that allows you to start at 10 AM. Just be clear to communicate your work hours to your clients.
Also, even though your clients may not realize it, rest will enable you to produce higher quality deliverables.
6) Schedule You-Time
Many freelancers can’t function without a coveted to-do list. At the same time, it’s easy to overestimate what you can accomplish in a day.
Unfinished tasks at the end of the day can often lead to anxiety. There is, however, a simple solution for this dilemma: get over it!
When you can’t complete something, bump it forward on your to-do list. Eventually, you’ll acquire a more realistic grasp of what you can accomplish in a day. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what a reasonable and consistent schedule for you will look like, and sometimes, unforeseen things just happen and your schedule gets disrupted.
Learn to let these things go. Meditation, yoga and exercise and a great way to help you feel more grounded and learn to let uncontrollable things go. Try incorporating a class a few times a week, or starting your day off with a morning job. Exercising has a long list of benefits and freelancers shouldn’t forget to incorporate exercise into their lives.
If you can’t let go of your to-do list addiction, start scheduling some time for yourself. Once you make personal time a to-do list priority, you’ll feel less anxiety over rescheduling work tasks because you’ll learn to value your personal needs as much as you value your work.
7) Seek professional help
If the anxiety is harming your mental health even after you’ve tried rearranging your schedule and taking frequent breaks, you should consider speaking to a therapist or counselor. These counselors are trained and equipped with the most current and helpful tools to help you address the root of your anxiety and work through your obstacles.
Remember, no work or job is worth sacrificing your mental health.
Over the next two years, economists forecast that the gig economy will grow considerably. By 2021, they estimate that 9.2 million workers will freelance or work in non-traditional roles. Resultantly, a growing number of people will need to learn how to manage their time in a way that promotes emotional health.
If you want to enjoy a satisfying career as a freelancer, you must mind your emotional and physical health. The sooner you start prioritizing your needs, the sooner you can leave work-related anxiety behind.