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Mental Health Awareness for Freelancers

By July 24, 2019 Freelance, Freelancing

Working in an office day in and day out can be grating.  The daily commute to and from work, the dragging on of the hours for the office day to end, the office politics to deal with; and a million other things — all these can lead to a lot of frustration and stress! Wouldn’t this motivate you to just leave it all behind and venture off as a freelancer? After all, all the office stress and what comes with it shouldn’t be good for one’s mental wellbeing, right?

It is this scenario that oftentimes motivates people to get into freelancing.  The thought of being your own boss and being able to be in control of your own time –your own schedules, may be very appealing for those stuck in a rut at work. Yes, freelancing may have its advantages, but many are unaware too that it comes with its own stresses and frustrations that can affect your mental health.

Let’s look at the positives and the negatives of freelancing, and how more often than not, each is a double-edged blade that can work both ways when it comes to your mental health and well-being.

You have control over your time

This is great because ideally, you can control how much work you will take on.  You can work at your own pace and choose the type of work that would be most fulfilling to you.  

On the other hand, most freelancers are quick to admit that though they do have control over their own time, they work more hours as freelancers than they ever did with their regular 9 to 5 job. The pressure is greater to have more gigs and jobs since many office benefits are nonexistent when you get into freelancing. Yes, you have the control, but you really feel the pressure to become successful. 

Financial control

Freelancing can be very lucrative and be a great source of income. Many make a fine living as freelancers and believe they made the right decision in leaving the corporate jungle behind.  It is also a benefit to your mental wellbeing that you can demand what you feel is your worth and be compensated accordingly.

To be honest, though, most freelancers have a more difficult time financially. There is more to think about, too, in terms of getting leads and clients. The downside of this all is that there is greater pressure to meet financial goals since each project solely contributes to living expenses. There are no office benefits or bonuses that you can count on. 

Some deal with this by contracting full-time with just one client, akin to being employed yet being based at home. Benefits may be limited though and there is always a lack of job and financial security. Yes, the potential for making more is higher, but there is pressure to work more and do more. This is something that is always present and puts a toll on the mental well-being of freelancers, too.

A Question of Balance

Freelancing allows you to take control of your schedules and be your own boss in terms of the things you would like to do.  For many, this conjures thoughts of being able to work by the beach somewhere or have the picture-perfect moment where freelancer parents work while being able to be hands-on in the home and kids. A perfect positive for your mental health, right?

The reality though is this is not always the case. More often then not, freelancers have a tough time balancing work and home and family; and oftentimes work even more and have less time to spend time with their kids and spouses. Also, though there is that thought where you are your own boss, the reality is that working with the demands of multiple clients can be highly stressful and lead to long work hours and less time with family and friends. This can lead to a lot of feelings of guilt and frustration that is definitely not good for one’s mental health.

Blows on Self-esteem

It can be such a boost to your self-esteem if you are able to be a successful freelancer.  You are paid what you feel is due you and you are able to choose the projects you want to do.  Being in control of your own schedule and finding fulfilment in the work that you are doing are great too for your mental wellbeing — a definite positive in any book.

But being a freelancer takes a lot of work and can lead to a lot of stresses and blows to your self-esteem as well. Though some freelancers become very successful in their businesses and gain a lot financially, most do work much harder and have much more to think about in terms of overhead costs.  The pressures of having no job security whatsoever, too, can really be a source of pressure and stress–not to mention having to deal with so many different clients and rejections along the way. Things like these can really take their toll on mental health.      

Isolation  

Freelancing gives you the freedom to do things that many people with office jobs can’t do. You can up and choose where you want to work — like say your neighbourhood cafe, even bring your work with you as you plan for that vacation you have always wanted.  The downside to this though is that it can get very lonely, working alone and having less interaction, unlike in an office setting. You really need to adjust and make time to go out and see your friends. Being in a completely different work environment does not help either — your world, your lifestyle and your schedules are so different from most that have office jobs that it is hard to relate and reconnect with friends. Just another thing that can negatively impact your mental health.

Being a freelancer really does have its perks and disadvantages just like any other type of job — may it be office-based or otherwise. It does not spare you from stresses and frustrations, it just gives you different ones.  What is important is to be aware and acknowledge these pressures and stresses and find ways to deal with them from the very start. Maintaining good mental health is important, maybe even more so as a freelancer because everything is really dependent on you.

The lesson here is simple — be aware be proactive in dealing with your mental health wellbeing. Find ways to set limits, create balance and manage yourself and your time well.  Taking note of how you feel and how you are emotionally will be a definite plus.

 

-This article was written by Abby Villarica from Green Box

 

2 Comments

  • Ewan Buck says:

    Abby, this is a great article. Really important to highlight the issue of mental health for freelancers. I am a freelance graphic designer and understand the highs and lows you talk about. Partly because of that I am opening a cowork in Bromley that will go some way to help freelancers reconnect and work somewhere professional and with a community. You may only want to work there one or two days a month but I am certain it will be good for you 🙂
    http://www.contingent.works #wherebromleyworks

    • Abby says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Ewan. It really is a concern and freelancers have to be aware of it. A coworking space is a great way to help freelancers feel less isolated from the world and connect with others — a real help, I believe!

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