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Freelancing has become more popular than ever. It was already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there were more than 59 million freelancers in the U.S. Now, since so many people experienced financial hardships and job loss during the pandemic, it’s becoming a better option for people with certain sets of skills.
No, we don’t mean Liam Neeson.
Whether you’re a graphic designer, writer, or do great work as an assistant, there are freelance opportunities available that will allow you to take charge of your career, work from home, and be your own employer. Sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, as with any career, there can be stress involved. Understanding the cause(s) of that stress will make you more aware of how you should handle your work. It can also encourage you to find ways to manage it.
With that, let’s first look at why freelancers might experience stress on the job, and then offer some advice on how to cope with it for a long-lasting, healthy, productive career.
Understand a Different Type of Stress
There’s no question that the workplace is a common source of stress. One recent survey found that 25% of people believe their job is the most stressful thing in their lives. While typical workplace stress comes from things like long hours, a demanding boss, or conflicts with co-workers, working from home can cause different types of stress.
Unfortunately, there are far too many stigmas surrounding freelancers by people who don’t fully understand the job. It’s easy to think that being your own boss and working remotely automatically makes your life less stressful. That isn’t true. Instead, freelancers often have to deal with stressors like:
● An unhealthy work-life balance
● Health concerns
Additionally, you are your own boss. That sounds good on paper, but it can be stressful in practice. You have to constantly work to keep clients happy while marketing toward new ones. You don’t receive the benefits traditional office workers do, forcing you to buy your own insurance, give yourself vacation time, and take care of every other “office” duty an employer usually handles.
It’s not uncommon for freelancers to burn out quickly. Whether it’s too many deadlines to handle, poor time management skills, or just taking on too much work, the stress is real. It’s just different from what most people are used to. Understanding the effects that stress can cause should push you toward finding ways to cope.
Find a Routine That Works for You
One of the biggest problems freelancers can have is finding a way to balance their work lives with their personal lives. You might have deadlines, but you typically won’t have a “9-5” job or specific working hours.
It can be tempting to sleep in, start working in the afternoon, or sit on the couch with your computer to try to get some things done. Unfortunately, that hardly ever works. As a result, you might find yourself panicking over last-minute deadlines or working late into the night because you didn’t get things done during the day.
Finding a routine that works for you can make a big difference. That starts with going to sleep at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. From there, your routine can vary slightly, but some of the basics should remain the same, including:
● Having set working hours throughout the day
● Scheduling breaks
● Going into the same home “office” each day
● Limiting distractions
● “Unplugging” for several hours
Studies have shown that simply having a daily routine can improve your mental health and reduce stress. Setting something up that fits with your career needs and personal needs will make it easier to handle stress and actually enjoy your job.
Practice Self-Care Every Day
While a routine can be a part of self-care, there are other things you should be doing every day to keep stress in check. Self-care has gotten a bit of a reputation as a “buzzword”, but it’s extremely beneficial when done the right way. Instead of focusing on “luxury” or going to extremes with a self-care routine, think about little things you can do each day to promote your overall well-being. That could include things like:
● Cooking a healthy meal
● Taking a hot bath
● Spending time with a friend
Exercising is another great form of self-care. Getting enough physical activity can boost your energy levels, improve your mental health, and allow you to be more focused throughout the day. Plus, it’s a great way to strengthen your immune system and fight off illness. Take breaks throughout the day to get in a quick workout. If you have trouble staying motivated, consider using an app or fitness tracker to pay attention to your progress and reach your goals.
It’s important to understand that workplace stress can impact freelancers just as much as those with more “traditional” jobs. Once you accept that, you can start working on ways to combat that stress every day and make the most of being your own boss for years to come.