Expert mental health advice for the self-employed

The past two years have changed our perspective on the future of work. You’ve probably heard of “The Great Resignation” – the upward trend in people leaving their jobs caused, in part, by employees being asked to go back in-house – or how the designer economy continues to grow by the day. in days.

Whether you’ve just joined the freelance crowd or have been your own boss for years, you’ve probably also been familiar with something called ‘Hustle Culture’. There is a deeply held expectation that you should be as productive as possible from the moment you wake up until the minute you fall asleep. I’ve worked for myself as a writer and strategist for almost nine years, and I know how damaging the scramble can be to your greatest asset – your health. My sanity was triggered by sleepless nights or endless stress. The anxiety or depression I’m struggling with then takes an impact on my physical health, and it all starts to feel like a never-ending cycle.

While it can sometimes feel like the scramble is the only way, the truth is that more sustainable businesses are built by going at your pace. Below, find tips from others who are working for themselves and who have been successful in protecting their mental health.

Here are 4 tips to protect your mental health when you are self-employed

1. Work the hours that suit you best

First of all, working for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean working endless hours. The freedom to set your own schedule is your super power. You need to find your productivity strengths, while making sure you don’t push yourself hard.

“I like the tough ‘no’s when it comes to working weekends. I need consecutive days off to recharge my batteries. “—Miriam Thom, founder of the psora club

When you work will likely depend on the type of work you do. For Miriam Thom, founder of the psora club, who started working for herself six years ago, sticking to a 9 to 5 schedule works best for her. “This is when I know I’ll get the most online engagement and email responses,” she says. It is therefore also essential to maintain a working week from Monday to Friday. “I like a hard ‘no’ when it comes to working weekends. I need consecutive days off to recharge. Boundaries help me create a scaffold on which to develop healthy habits. When I have no limits, I feel less in my power. When I am not in my power, my work suffers.

2. Remember that your sanity is not a burden on your business.

“The mindset of restlessness is so ingrained in our culture that we almost forget that when we step away from a job or career path set for independent living, we don’t have to take these scripts to be successful with us or the same non-stop approach to working other industries, ”says Catherine Zack, meditation teacher and conscious stress management coach. “We have to make the rules for ourselves. I know freelancers and entrepreneurs are busy, and I feel like there is no time to waste, but it is worth taking a break and taking a step back to take some time out. ‘space and think about what your own definition of success is.

Once you’ve redefined success, it’s also easier to redefine how essential mental wellness is to your business and well-being. Jamie Grimstad became her own boss in 2019. She is the co-founder and CEO of Favor Gum and the founder of Curated by Jamie, and advocates accepting the ups and downs of self-employment as a way to ease mental tensions.

“Being your own boss is a roller coaster,” she says. “There are great days and tougher days, but it’s all part of the process. For years I have had mental health issues on a personal level, and there are times when it interrupts my work. I always try to fall back on my self-care toolbox on days when I feel like I need to give myself a little more self-esteem. Having said that, I think being self employed ultimately made me more confident in myself.

Bottom Line: Allowing self-care to fit into your guilt-free schedule allows you to be more proactive in maintaining your mental well-being.

3. Redefine the way you fill your time

As you set boundaries and establish a mental wellness routine that’s right for you, being a good, fair boss to yourself is also essential. “I try to be efficient, not busy,” adds Ellen Mihalovich, founder of Gemmwell, who started working for herself six months ago. “A lot of people dream of the ‘freedom’ that comes from not having a boss, but the reality is that for many self-employed people, they find it even harder to turn off. “

“Put simply, if I gave myself all day to do something, I might ‘feel’ busy doing it all day. But, if I gave myself a perimeter, say two hours, to do something, then the heat would be on, and the deadline would motivate me to stay on task. “—Amanda Wolfe, Founder of Growco Lab

Blocking out time is one way to start targeting productivity rather than excessive business. “I learned early on that setting my own schedule meant that I could too easily inflate the volume of time I spent working,” says Amanda Wolfe, founder of Growco Lab, who has been self-employed for two years. . “I realized that my time management lived and died because of Parkinson’s Law: ‘Labor expands in order to fill the time available for its completion,’ which means it contracts as well. Simply put, if I spent all day doing something, I might “feel” busy doing it all day. But, if I gave myself a perimeter, say two hours, to do something, then the heat would be on, and the deadline would motivate me to stay focused and go faster. The result? More focus, better execution, more leeway and feeling like the boss of my time instead of feeling his mercy.

4. Check with yourself

Sometimes we all have slips, and it’s possible that if you’re reading this, you might need some help getting out of a tougher time with your mental health, instead of a preventative approach.

If so, Zack suggests checking with yourself first: “Take inventory with yourself to get a feel for where you are already doing a great job and where you might have. need extra support, ”she said. “Keep a work-life balance journal for a week. Pick a typical Monday through Friday over the next several weeks and put pen to paper (or keep a digital recording or voice memo). Monitor your existing work habits, stress triggers, and coping mechanisms. Track your time and your to-do list, your expectations of what you think you can do, the pressure you put on yourself, and what actually gets done in a day or a week. Base your next steps to create change and seek support based on what you really need.

As you wrap up the rest of the year and envision a new year, now is the time to start restoring or re-engaging within healthier boundaries with your sanity and work. Working for yourself allows you that flexibility, as long as you remember it.

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