Freelancing is a great way to work remotely and get out of the daily grind. However, freelancing can also be stressful because freelancers are often forced to operate without the benefits (and protections) of being attached to an established company. If freelancers run into trouble or feel pressure to perform, they often feel compelled to take matters into their own hands and solve the problem themselves… which almost always puts them further into hot water! In today’s economy, more and more people are turning to freelancing as a means of making extra money. And as a rule, the more independent you are, the higher your stress level will be.
But there’s good news. There are ways you can reduce your stress levels and become productive. Here are 8 strategies that have proven successful for other freelancers:
Stress can rob you of your energy and make it difficult for you to function at your best. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body makes more stress hormones such as cortisol. This “sleep hormone” reduces your brain’s ability to deal with stress and makes it harder for you to make smart decisions. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to enhance your immune system and lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. Exercise helps reduce stress as it gives your body a much needed “reset” and makes you more resistant to stress. By getting your body moving and breathing more deeply, your exercise program will slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and put a spark in your step!
2. Spend time with family and friends
Spending time with family and friends can be one of the best ways to reduce stress. Having empathy for someone else’s situation or listening without interrupting allows you to give your full attention to someone else. This is an act of self-love that also helps reduce stress in the other person. It creates a positive cycle where they are more likely to offer their full attention back when you need it most! The idea is to give your mind and body something positive to focus on other than work.
3. Improve your sleep habits
Sleep is something that freelancers often sacrifice due to the demands of freelancing schedules, or because freelancers end up working in their pajamas in bed! The lack of quality sleep can exacerbate symptoms of chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, stress, and anxiety. When freelancers cut down on sleep, they are triggering a “stress response” in their body instead of taking a much-needed break to recharge. Sleep deprivation makes freelancers feel like they can’t shut off their brain so it’s common for freelancers to spend time awake replaying projects or making lists of what needs to get done.
4. Keep a journal
When freelancers keep a journal, they are often surprised how just putting their thoughts on paper can help reduce stress levels. Putting your feelings into words and onto paper is therapeutic in many ways as it helps clear your mind of clutter so you can focus better on the present moment and be more effective in your job. It also helps freelancers objectively look at their situation, so they don’t get as stressed when freelancing problems bubble up to the surface.
5. Learn a relaxation technique
Often freelancers find themselves suffering from stress because they have not taken the time to relax themselves and recharge their batteries. Reaching a state of calmness can be as simple as deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. Taking the time to learn these techniques and practice them regularly can help freelancers reduce stress levels and lower their risk of developing stress-related health conditions.
6. Know where your freelancing limits are
It’s important for freelancers to learn where they have freelancing “limits” to avoid burnout. You can only work so many hours a day and produce so much quality content in that time. By freelancing within your limits, you will not only become more productive, but stress levels will be lower.
7. Have fun!
It’s important that freelancers find work that they enjoy. If freelancers are not working to their strengths, it can compound the stress of freelancing and lead to burnout. Doing something you love will help get you through the tough times when freelancing isn’t going as well as planned. It’s also an important way for freelancers to recharge their batteries!
8. Get good freelancing advice
The best freelancers ask for advice when they need it and have an “accountability buddy” to keep them on track. By having someone in their corner that can help them through difficult times, freelancers are less likely to feel isolated or alone with problems while working on their own. As freelancers become more successful, a mentor can help them avoid freelancing pitfalls and improve the overall quality of their work.
As you can see, having empathy for your clients – and looking after yourself – are important coping mechanisms to reduce stress. If freelancers are willing to stick with just one of these strategies for at least two weeks, they will notice a significant reduction in stress.
While freelancing can be extremely rewarding, freelancers must be mindful of the pitfalls that can cause stress and burnout. Being aware of these coping strategies is the first step towards avoiding the stress and burnout that sometimes comes from being a freelancer.