According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), there are now more than two-million freelancers in the UK. In fact, freelance workers are now present in almost all major industry groups, from science and tech, through to education, arts and entertainment, and health and social care. They are also a rapidly growing segment of the safety and health sector, too.
Freelancing offers flexibility and freedom like no other profession. It’s a working lifestyle choice that empowers professionals to juggle their work and personal commitments on their own terms. In fact, to many, freelancing is the perfect solution to building the life they’ve always dreamed of.
However, freelancing also has a darker side. According to Epson research, 25% of freelancers have experienced depression and 21% have felt suicidal due to loneliness. And, with no boss or colleagues available for accountability, how can freelancers and remote workers look after themselves to ensure they achieve a mentally healthy work-life balance?
Learn how to handle rejection
One of the biggest challenges as a freelancer is learning how to cope when a potential new client rejects your pitch. Or when a project falls through that you were banking on to pay next month’s rent. Rejection is part of everyday life for a freelancer, but when times are hard, it can be devastating. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, here’s what you can do instead:
- Keep pitching, no matter how many times your ideas or applications are rejected. The average freelancer only needs between three and ten regular clients. It will happen for you if you keep pitching, you just need to be patient.
- Use the feedback you receive to refine your offering. If a few failed pitches tell you that your service isn’t quite what they need, or your price is too high or too low, then use this information to refine, adjust and grow.
- Reward yourself. Give yourself something to look forward to. Reward yourself for every successful pitch. Write down your goal and what you’ll do to reward yourself when the work comes in.
Commit to regular socialising
Although working remotely can be a dream for most of us, isolation and loneliness can very quickly set in. Human beings are social creatures. We thrive in groups and friendship or camaraderie is essential to our mental and physical wellbeing.
- Join a networking group. Networking and business clubs are not just great for doing business with those who may need your services, they’re also excellent places to find like-minded freelancers, remote workers and small business owners. Find and join a business networking group or coworking space in your local area.
- Expand your interest groups. If you spend a great deal of time working on your own, your whole life can suddenly become consumed with work. Give yourself permission to have some fun, too! Think about the things that you’re interested in and join a few groups to keep your mind focussed on more creative or adventurous endeavours.
- Think about volunteering. Volunteering can be excellent for your mental and physical health, and also for meeting new people outside of your typical circle of friends.
Commit to regular exercise
It’s been said a thousand times before, but there really is nothing better for your mental health than physical exercise. If you’re just not a fan of the gym, then there are plenty of other ways to keep yourself in good shape and feed your brain with the positive energy it needs so you can continue to be excellent at your job.
- Take a walk outside for at least 30 minutes every day: there are countless benefits to walking for just half an hour every day.
- Don’t force yourself to do exercise that you don’t enjoy, because you’ll never stick with it. Instead, find something that you’ll really love and will give you an adrenaline kick.
- Get a dog, because if all else fails, at least you’ll have an excuse to get up and get out of the house.
And finally, don’t forget to switch off and unplug.
In a world where demands are placed upon us to be contactable at all times, sometimes the best thing we can do for our mental health is to switch off our phone, turn off the wifi, and take a break.