Freelance or free stress? Stress awareness for the freelance workforce.

Swapping to a freelance lifestyle is often a relief from the stresses and strains of traditional working but although the grass is often greener on the other side, it can sometimes become a tad muddy. This week is Stress Awareness Week so here at Fi Darby Freelance we have decided to share with you five of our freelance-work stress points and how we deal with these.

Stress Point One – Not enough work

When the work is flowing and the schedule full, freelance life can be a dream. Inevitably however there will be some gaps in client requirement and your calendar. These can be a bit disconcerting at first and may lead to workplace stress.

Stress Symptoms:

  • You are woken up at night by money worries
  • You spend too much time checking the bank account
  • You find yourself gazing longingly at job adverts

Stress-Reducing Solutions:

  • Focus on being analytical about the situation
  • Have a list of useful jobs you can do during times of slower work flow
  • Build up enough savings to cover you for at least a couple of months

Stress Point Two – Too much work

If you are a lone freelancer, you have probably felt the pressure of being the only person there to get the work done. With no colleagues to help out, a full-to-bursting work schedule can be just as stressful as an empty one.

Stress Symptoms: 

  • You find it difficult to focus and make more mistakes than usual
  • You start missing meals and forgetting to take work breaks
  • You jump from job to job trying to keep up

Stress-Reducing Solutions:

  • Look after yourself before your clients
  • Make lists of jobs and prioritise them
  • Use a diary to allocate each job a time slot
  • Be honest with clients if you require additional time

Stress Point Three – Self Confidence

When you work with colleagues there are plenty of people with whom you can celebrate your successes and learn from your failures. This can be more difficult when you work alone, especially if you are facing perceived criticism.

Stress Symptoms:

  • You get nervous when presenting work to a client
  • You only take on familiar or easy jobs
  • You stop looking for new clients

Stress-Reducing Solutions:

  • Spend some time looking back at completed jobs you were proud of
  • Write a list of your experience and expertise
  • Talk to another freelancer about how you are feeling

Stress Point Four – Loneliness

If you come from a busy, people-filled industry, starting out as a freelancer can be a breath of fresh air. Less clamour from other people can bring with it real relief but all good things come with a negative side and working on your own can sometimes feel a bit lonely.

Stress Symptoms:

  • You find yourself unable to celebrate when things go well
  • You feel low and can’t really put a finger on why
  • You feel more tearful than usual

Stress-Reducing Solutions:

  • Join in with regular activities that involve other people
  • Put the radio on when you take work breaks
  • Change your work pattern and have fewer consecutive work days

Stress Point Five – Cash Flow

Most freelancers don’t get paid on a set day each month. This takes a bit of getting used to, particularly when you remember that most bills do need to be paid on a set day each month. Money worries aren’t exclusive to the freelance lifestyle but they can become more intense when you are in a ‘no work, no pay’ work arrangement.

Stress Symptoms:

  • You start receiving reminder-to-pay letters and emails
  • You feel out of control of your financial situation
  • You ignore your accounts instead of prioritising them

Stress-Reducing Solutions:

  • Understand your monthly and annual financial slow points
  • Celebrate thriftiness and find creative make-do solutions
  • Build up a savings fund to cover any emergency payments

All freelance lifestyles are different

Of course, everybody has different experiences of stress and not all freelancers work alone or from home. Whatever your work situation we would love to hear about your experiences of freelance working stress and how you deal with it.

Freelance Copywriter in Devon

Fi Darby is a Devon-based blogger, copywriter, outdoor writer and children’s author.

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