Before diving into the topic let us see how your mental health is tied to your freelancing career. Behind those glamorous Instagram posts of the freelancers enjoying their free time are several mental health challenges. Both the working and freelance life have their rewards and challenges. The freelancer’s life, however, is free from the unnerving office hours, that messes up all the plans you make for your personal life. That is motivation enough for a lot of people to make the change from the employed life to the freelancer’s life.
The challenges a freelancer, who is just starting, faces that are bad for their mental health:
Envy for ‘successful freelancers’:
If you are starting as a freelancer, those social media posts, that you tell yourself, gets you motivated is terrible for your mental health. Starting in this field is the hardest part of this job. Seeing others live the freelance life while you are not even getting clients to give you, work is one of the most challenging things to face starting.
The truth is those freelancers met what you are facing right now as well. They overcame these problems and are now reaping the benefits of those sleepless nights. Even now, as they post those pictures of beautiful gardens and beautiful beaches, they have stress, that they have learned to manage. So keep these truths in mind the next time you are browsing through Instagram or better yet unfollow any profiles that induce stress.
Lack of support when starting:
After you have achieved a bit of success, there will not be a shortage of people supporting you. However, when starting, when you are not getting much work or any work at all, people will point out at every change that you are headed towards disaster. Even family members will advise against this and suggest you pursue a regular career like everyone else. There will be periods when you will feel this will not work out and you really should focus on a proper job.
At these times it is suggested you surround yourself with like-minded people. There are various communities for freelancers on social media. If you have a friend who also has the mindset of an entrepreneur, you can support each other. It is always preferable to start with like-minded people.
Now let us talk about the actual job and the factors of this job that is detrimental to your mental health:
Lack of Security:
One thing that a regular job beats freelancing at is job security. At a steady job, you have the certainty of earning a chunk of money that pays your bills every month. However, when freelancing you have no assurance of work coming in that will pay the bills. There is no fixed wage and no health or life insurances. This leaves you feeling anxious and vulnerable more often than not. Anxiety is not suitable for your mental health. But there comes a time when you have some regular clients and don’t have to worry about not getting work.
Toxic clients and influences:
One of the worst things you have to face in this line of work is toxic clients. There are a lot of toxic clients out there. So many that there are categories to identify them. A few examples are cheap clients, clients who are perfectionists, clients with no time sense and worst of all the scammers. Be extra vigilant and keep an eye out for these clients. They are not worth your time and certainly not worth stressing over.
The isolation from the world:
Freelancing means seating on your laptop/PC all day and doing the client’s works. Means you will be devoid from the outside world and out from social situations. This can make you feel isolated a lot. We all need face to face interactions. The very fact that we need social interactions is what makes us human. Your close ones can easily detect mental health issues that have developed from this isolated nature of the job. If you behave in a different pattern with people you see regularly, it is due to this problem.
The increased workload:
Freelancing means working alone, that means your colleagues will not be there who can relieve a bit of stress from your hands. You have to do the whole job by yourself. Initially, from time management to be the one writing up the contract between the client and yourself, the entire thing has to be done by yourself. In a regular job, projects you receive are usually divide between a few people, but in this career when you receive a project; there is no one to delegate the tasks to. It is all up to you. This can induce a considerable amount of stress, which is terrible for your brain.
The lack of structure:
When you work for an organization its organizational structure, its hierarchy and the chain of command keeps everything operating smoothly. You will notice when you start freelancing that this lack of structure is a big problem. Deadlines will fly by, and you will barely see. Work will remain undone, which not only is bad for your profile/rating but also the guilt, which is terrible for your mental health. In a regular job, it is your boss, who pushes you around, that is making sure all the work is done and is done on time.
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All this may sound like this job is a nightmare. But it is still way better than any regular job. The flexibility you have with the time your work is golden. If this flexibility is appropriately used, the negative energy generated by all these problems can easily controlled. For example, if you are feeling isolated and lonely, you can easily use this flexibility to grab a quick cup of coffee with your favorite person.
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Similarly, all of the problems mentioned above have solutions. Those solutions are also rather easy to implement. But that is a topic for another day.