There are currently over 2 million Freelancers in the UK. For the majority (1.7 million), working on a freelance basis is their main occupation, whereas for others, taking part in Freelance work tends to be part of a secondary job role.
With more and more people going freelance, there are more problems arising with experiences of mental health, depression and loneliness. Nearly 40% of people feel lonely after going freelance according to a survey by Aldermore.
In this article, we’ll go through the causes of the rise in poor mental health in freelancing. And different steps you can take to put more priority on mental health and wellness.
The lack of human contact
The lack of human contact can have very real consequences to our health: loneliness can compromise the immune system, it causes insomnia, increases your susceptibility to depression and can actually cause poor health.
A founder of Wellness Company, Thy Self, Chloé Pierre talks about the importance of addressing mental health. “I’ve learnt that it’s very imperative and very important. Mental health is not something that can be ignored for long. I’ve got friends who have said that they previously didn’t understand wellness or how to do self-care or why mental health is such a big deal, then later down the line they found they had to change that because as a freelancer, you’re consistently working by yourself for yourself, and therefore dealing with stress alone. This also means that there aren’t often many places to go to for feedback. That’s why I’m so passionate about spreading the word when it comes to the importance of mental health.”
It’s very important to highlight not only the subject of mental health but also the harm that it can bring to a freelancer over longer-term if the subject is not fully addressed.
To help you get more human contact, you can work in a cafe or a shared workspace. Although, currently with coronavirus, it’s advised to stay safe and switch to online interactive workshops, networking events, and e-socials.
The lack of routine
Another aspect that affects mental health is the lack of routine, without the need to ‘present’ to your boss at 9am it’s extremely tempting to start work at 11am, then find yourself cramming until 11pm at night. This does work for some, but for others, it can have a real knock-on effect on their mental health and sleep patterns. There are some suggestions that could lead you to better time management and routine setup.
A Fashion Designer and Founder of Canella Clothing, Sophie Castillo talks about the importance of not overwhelming yourself and embracing your feelings. “I’ve learnt that it’s a priority! It’s important to do things at a pace you feel comfortable with. Tasks can feel so overwhelming sometimes, even when they’re simple. This can cause a lot of anxiety but I’ve learnt that sometimes your anxiety can be your mind’s reaction to wanting things so badly. We need to embrace our feelings, listen to them, work with them and use the passion that fuels them to fuel our work. It may seem really simple but making to-do lists can be super helpful and it feels really satisfying to tick things off a list, which I found helped me mentally. Also writing down 3 things you achieved that day every night can be really good for your mental health, especially when you feel down about your work.”
It’s really important to outline what particularly causes you anxiety and you to get overwhelmed. And then take actions and see what helps your mind to calm down and feel mentally better. Try taking the steps below to help you prioritise or re-prioritise on your mental health.
Steps to take to prioritise on your mental health:
Add movement to your routine → Try exercising, taking a walk to de-stress. Even if you’re not sure you want to incorporate a 2-hour workout routine into your day, even the smallest bit of movement can help. Think about scheduling a time to go for a walk or light jog every day.
Bend an ear → Seek social interaction, feedback and advice. While introverts may wince at the thought of this, it can actually go a long way in improving mood. Social interaction is important; without it, self-employed individuals can get lost in their own heads. Creatives should not shy away from seeking out a professional ear, either.
Prioritise self-care → Create boundaries, work windows and schedule time out for self-care. Find ways to take time for yourself. While you are responsible for your work and your clients, you’ll expand your productivity by keeping yourself happy and well-rested. Consider signing up for a class (unrelated to work) that interests you, like photography or painting.
Build up a support system → In addition to finding ways to connect with others, be sure you are keeping in touch with a wider array of people who make up your support system. There are a few companies that provide support therapy sessions such as The Circle Line.