Combating Freelancer Burnout: 5 Important Self Care Tips
As a freelancer, becoming your own boss can be an incredibly empowering and convenient change of pace. After all, freelancing often is hailed for its flexibility and freedom—but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without its share of downfalls.
Being self-employed means you are in charge of your daily schedule, finding clients, marketing yourself, building your portfolio, invoicing clients, and actually doing your work, which can add up to long hours spent at your workspace. Personally, freelancing can feel like burning the candle from both ends, while trying to figure out how you can also light the middle.
A study on German freelancers reported that many freelancers face a higher workload than their traditionally employed peers, while facing considerably lower working standards when it came to compensation, benefits, job security, and esteem. As a freelancer, the added stress of being your own boss can often come with an unfortunate side effect: burnout.
Managing burnout may not feel like a priority when there’s just so much to do, but being proactive about your stress levels as a freelancer can pay off in the long run. Here are several techniques to try when you start to feel overwhelmed by your work.
1. Hit the Gym
There are hundreds of studies linking exercise with lower levels of stress, and for good reason—getting your steps in for the day can increase your levels of endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitter in your brain that works as a natural painkiller. Additionally, exercise can relax your body and release tension that can occur from sitting for long periods of time. Left unchecked, this tension can lead to chronic pain issues, which only further increases the stress you experience.
So, as tempting as it is to work around the clock, it’s in your best interest to break up your work day and schedule time to exercise. Whether you break a sweat at the gym, take a brisk walk around your neighborhood, or go try out that climbing gym you’ve been wanting to try, you’ll feel better and be ready to tackle the next challenge of freelancing.
2. Maintain a Healthy Social Life
Humans, even introverted ones, are social creatures by nature. While you may feel like you get plenty of interaction with others, there’s an undeniable benefit of connecting with others for purely social reasons. Your work-life balance is key to reducing stress and avoiding burnout, so make sure that you find time for fun, too! Schedule a date night, gather some friends for karaoke or trivia night, or devote some time to play with your kids to connect with your loved ones. You can also get active by volunteering or joining a professional association to make new connections.
3. Take the Time to Disconnect
As important as it is to connect with other people, it can be just as critical to take tie to disconnect from social media and digital devices. Schedule a time when you silence your phone, log off your computer, and step away from the digital world for a while. Remaining connected and available at all times can be a hard habit to break as a self-employed individual, but you may discover that it’s a much-needed change. While you’re at it, why not combine the time you spend disconnected with your loved ones or working out?
4. Provide Yourself with a Comfortable Work Space
This can mean different things for different people and you may have to experiment to discover what suits you best. For some, the bustle of their local coffee shop gives them the motivation they need to get to work. For others, a quiet home office away from distractions is the key. You may even discover that you enjoy the benefits of a co-working space. Whatever your favorite work space is, keeping your area organized can help you be more productive and feel less stressed.
5. Book an Appointment with a Therapist
Therapists are an excellent resource for any self-employed person, regardless of mental health. They can provide an outsider’s point of view, help you develop tools to handle stress better, and serve as an excellent sounding board for when you need to talk through the challenges you’re facing. What’s important is that you view your therapy appointments not as a cure, but rather as preventative maintenance. Just like you change the oil in your car and take it in for tune-ups to prevent breakdowns, you should see your therapist routinely to address your stress and prevent burnout.
Freelancing can be stressful, but managing your stress doesn’t have to be. Try some of these techniques to help prevent burnout and improve your ability to handle even the heaviest of workloads. Do you have tips to help freelancers reduce stress? Leave a comment below!
Hi, I’m Allison! I’m a freelance writer who uses my experiences to help other creative freelancers manage the challenges of their jobs. I also work closely with non-profit organizations and small businesses to increase their online visibility and reach with social media-focused digital marketing content. Chat with me on Twitter at @alleywritesgood.