Despite the uncertainties and inconsistencies of freelancing, the dream is still to be a freelancer, right?
Who wouldn’t prefer being (alone?) in their chosen environment, setting their own schedule and doing something they feel positively and passionately about? These three elements alone are enough to allay a whole spectrum of anxieties!
Since becoming a freelancer I’ve noticed a marked difference in my anxiety levels – being a freelancer has *almost* eradicated everything work-related I was incredibly stressed about throughout my career as a teacher, and suits my introverted nature to a tee.
My top ten mental health benefits of being a freelancer are:
1. Creating your own positive energy.
Being around people/colleagues all day can be hugely draining, especially for an introvert which, in turn, can sometimes affect self-confidence too. Although you genuinely don’t want to be included in the staff night out, it’s still uncomfortable listening to people around you discussing it beforehand/afterwards! However, being a freelancer allows you to embrace and harness your introverted energy effectively. Psychology Today explains:
“It’s about understanding yourself, what your strengths are, and what you need to do to be successful…with introversion comes exceptional skills and abilities.”
2. Reducing time anxiety.
Another meeting? They’re such a waste of time!
It’s Friday afternoon, there’s no point starting something new now, so I’m going to mentally clock out and waste the afternoon!
I’m unhappy in my job but I don’t have time to search and apply for something new.
Sound familiar? Small Business reports that UK employees spend over 400 million days a year on unnecessary ‘time wasting’ office tasks!
Being a freelancer removes a lot of time anxiety as it affords freedom from ‘traditional’ job time contraints. A freelancer dictates their own hours (often more than traditional work hours!), understands their own productivity peaks and troughs and sets their own schedule/appointments accordingly, AND has the creative freedom to work on other side hustles/income streams to maximise long-term success. Much more preferable to whiling away wasted time in an office environment unproductively clock watching or doing something menial that doesn’t really benefit or impact you (or anyone!) directly.
3. Becoming more productive and motivated!
Leading smoothly on from number 2, being a freelancer often results in increased productivity and motivation:
It’s MY business, it’s MY reputation at stake so I’m going to make sure MY ideas/planning/hard work are successful!
Anyone who has made the decision to become a freelancer *is* naturally optimistic and resilient. The pros to freelancing far outweigh the cons for you so of course you’re going to do all you can to invest your skills and energies into doing whatever it takes to live the life you want to live!
4. Removing workplace irritations.
Small Business reported that UK small business workers waste almost six hours a week due to workplace irritations. For example: incessantly ringing phones, external building works/traffic noise, other people talking/laughing/eating noisily, temperature, general interruptions, internet connectivity and tidying up other people’s mess are all highly annoying and may impact your mental health negatively. A lot of these are completely eradicated by working as a freelancer!
5. Reducing the feeling of being trapped.
Why We Suffer states:
“At a conscious level, people prone to feeling trapped want to feel free and unrestricted. But unconsciously, they have an affinity for (or resonance with) the feeling of being trapped. At its worst, the feeling produces claustrophobia.”
For some people, the concept of going to a workplace and staying there for a set amount of hours day in and day out is completely bizarre! Sitting in an office or standing in a classroom or behind a counter etc. without feeling the overwhelming desire to escape is simply alien. How do these people do it? I applaud you, but I don’t want to be you!
6. Every day is bring your pet(s) to work day!
If you have a pet or pets, this is without doubt the greatest joy of being a freelancer. No more worrying about them being home alone. No more separation anxiety for your pet or terrible guilt for you. No more getting up at ridiculous o’clock to walk your dog before work so he/she settles in the house during the day. Being a freelancer means you spend every day around your favourite furry faces and it’s widely reported how owning a pet can reduce stress!
7. Reducing social anxiety triggers.
As I touched on in number 1, being around people or working in a populated environment can be extremely detrimental to the mental health of those who battle social anxiety.
The National Social Anxiety Center puts it perfectly:
“The relationships that we have with our bosses, managers, co-workers and fellow colleagues can help to minimize the stress and anxiety that comes as a normal and natural part of the workplace. But for someone struggling with social anxiety, this process can be highjacked and the normal socializing that is to help ameliorate stress only serves to increase it.”
As Overcoming Social Anxiety point out, added to that is the inability to complete expected day-to-day tasks such as: delivering presentations, meeting new co-workers, dealing with confrontation, meeting deadlines, talking in meetings or being overheard using the phone, which all intensify the fear of being perceived as aloof, incompetent or perhaps even worthless.
(Becoming a freelancer is often the only option for someone with crippling social anxiety, but if you are not in a position to leave your job just yet and you do need help managing social anxiety in your current workplace, there are useful tips here, here and here.)
8. Being able to take regular breaks in the fresh air when you choose to/need to.
Simply having the doors open on to the garden in the summer is absolute bliss, or popping out to walk the dog/read a book in the garden/have your morning cup of tea or coffee outside etc. All these things benefit your mental health massively. This year, Country Living reported that the mental health benefits of going for a walk can last 7 hours!
Hayley Gillard, writing for Huff Post, reports:
“Being in nature helps us to relax, improves our memory, increases our attention spam, and improves cognition.”
9. Taking ownership of your own continuing professional development (CPD).
Whether you are a new freelancer, brimming with ideas about names and logos and products/range of services, or an established entrepreneur thinking about closing a gap in your knowledge, successful people take the time to develop a long-term plan about all aspects of their business, including CPD.
You alone are responsible for your own CPD and the possibilities are exciting and endless! Maintaining skills is crucial; developing skills is beneficial to you and your customers. There are many ways you can support yourself to continue to develop professionally, such as:
Networking opportunities. (More About Cat did a great blog post about making new connections as a freelancer, especially if networking doesn’t come easily to you!)
Completing virtual or physical training courses e.g. bookkeeping, social media for business and/or pitching and presenting etc.
Obtaining additional academic/professional qualifications.
10. The freedom and joy of using your own, private toilet!
No interrupted selfies or moments of solace/urgent texting, no anxiety over not being able to ‘go’ if another person is in the next cubicle, and no dingy stalls or worse – unisex toilets which open straight onto a school corridor (*shudder*)!
So, these are my top ten mental health benefits of being a freelancer!
Do you agree with any/all of them? Does being a freelancer offer you any other mental health benefits? I’d love to hear them!