The world of the freelancer is a unique one and while, for those stuck in offices, it might sound very tempting to go it alone, it’s not always easy. Indeed, stress and anxiety are common issues that freelancers face.
Yes, you get to keep your own hours and if working from 6 in the morning suits you better than 9, then that’s a real bonus. If you’re a night owl who finds their creativity after dark, then that can work well for you too. Unconventional hours aside though, when you do go freelance you go into a world of financial insecurity and unknowns. Some weeks you’ll feel like you’re flying and other months you’ll wonder where all the work went.
It’s these kinds of unknowns that can lead the freelancer to feel stressed out and anxious about how they’ll keep their head above water. Let’s explore the kind of stress and anxiety that freelancers experience and how they can better cope with these issues.
Be Aware of Your Physical and Mental Health
You don’t get paid when you’re off sick, so when you’re feeling up against it, whether physically or mentally you need to tackle these issues head-on and work through them before they become large enough to impact on your business.
Got a bad back? Get that osteopath appointment as soon as possible. Struggling with stress and anxiety? Find a therapist to talk you through some coaching strategies. If it’s stress that is getting to you, first recognise and accept that’s how you feel. Often stress is triggered by one or two events, so if there are some pressure points at work think about how you might alleviate them to take some of the worries off of your shoulders.
Of course, there are times when it’s just time that’s going to eventually deal with these issues and you’ll have to wait patiently until that happens. In the meantime, while they work themselves through, you’ll need to come up with some coping strategies. This might involve setting yourself strict boundaries when it comes to your life outside work. Making sure your evenings are not spent with one eye on the laptop and one talking to your family. It might mean getting up and taking regular walks throughout the day and not letting your physical health be impacted by your workload.
Anxiety, as a mental disorder, can you leave feeling disengaged and unable to face the daily challenge of getting out of bed, finding work, and completing the tasks you need to do. Its symptoms can be both physical, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy and so on, or they can be more mental such as wanting to avoid anxiety-inducing situations or becoming prone to catastrophic thinking.
The longer you ignore anxiety, the worse it can become so taking action sooner rather than later is the best course of action. You’ll need to talk initially to your doctor, who may put you in touch with a therapist or counsellor and may also prescribe some medication if they think that will help alleviate the symptoms.
Budgeting Can Help You Cope With Stress and Anxiety
One of the things many freelancers do when they walk away from their old jobs is just breathe a sigh of relief and not much else. When the same amount of money comes in every month there isn’t much to think about when it comes to planning your budget. It’s a whole different ball game when you’re freelancing. By ignoring this very practical consideration you run the risk of becoming stressed and worried as you find yourself unable to deal with the financial pressure, so take action now. Stress and anxiety related to money are resolvable.
It’s boring and very practical but you need to sit down with your bank statement and a calculator and work out your bottom lines. How much do you need each month to cover all the bills, including food and petrol? That’s your starting point. It’s time to get organised and fix your sights on that number and anything else is a bonus in those early stages of your freelancing career.
It might be that you hit the ground running, in which case carefully consider how much you might save each month as a contingency fund or to save and reinvest back into your freelancing career with some software upgrades or paying for virtual business address use.
Nobody said becoming a freelancer was going to be a walk in the park but when you need to be on the top of your game, you need to make your mental and physical health a priority. Get the basics right when you start and begin as you mean to go on with a business that brings you joy, freedom, and financial benefit.