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Self-Care for Freelancers During Stressful Times

We live in unstable times. The world is bursting into panic, anger, and separation. The pandemic, protests, global conflicts, economic crisis. It’s enough for a person to feel confused and scared. As a freelancer, I feel the impact even more because there’s so much uncertainty. We don’t have as many financial and social guarantees as our full-time in-house counterparts.

Mass media isn’t helping either. Consuming information makes me more tired, angry, and disoriented. On top of all the havoc, put a falling economy, and you have a perfect mix for an anxiety attack. 

I’m a highly sensitive person, trying to freelance, and I have to admit that these past few months were difficult for me. I read news religiously, even though the day before, I would promise myself to stop. 

I load myself with terrible news, then I get scared and angry, hurting my mental health and productivity. My work and income suffered not only because of an economic crisis but also because of the lack of focus and being distracted by all the negativity in the world.

I worry about what’s going to happen next. I’m angry that I can’t manage stable work, and I fear that I might not have enough money the next month. But I try not to give up and find ways to manage stress and create a self-care routine. 

Dealing with uncertainty

Uncertainty is killing me. I love planning, but these few months showed that you have to quit planning to survive. Each time something unexpected happens, I feel panic creeping in my head. 

If you’re trying to freelance right now and maintain a stable life, I guess you feel the same. But I found a few things that help me find balance in my work and life during these shaky times. 


Self-care for freelancers

Building stability

When everything’s unstable, you have to find your solid ground. If you can’t find it, build it. Having a plan calms me down. As I said, now it’s not the best time to plan, but making a strategy to save your business is essential. 

You can start by writing down things that make you scared. My list would be:

  • I’ll be late in paying my annual taxes;
  • I’ll lose a client next month, making it difficult to manage finances;

Then write down a brief plan on how you could avoid or manage these triggers. Mine would go like this:

  • Make small monthly payments, find ways I could postpone my taxes, or perhaps the government is giving some financial benefits and subsidies for freelancers.
  • Find more clients, even though my schedule is full this month. I have to be prepared for the next month in advance. 

It sounds easier than it is, but I wrote it for you to get my point. Perhaps your plan won’t go as intended, but it will give you some clarity. I understand that sometimes projects and ideas fail, and this time it’s not on you. But I also believe that there are ways you can handle changes or at least alleviate the outcome.


Find plan B

If you’re worried about your finances, try to find some guarantees outside your job. Can you land temporary clients, perhaps from other niches, that could help you sustain yourself for a while? 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to use this free time to switch from my usual niche (mainly tech) to write on topics I’m interested in. It felt good, but it’s still a bit difficult to land clients and secure a stable income. So, I let myself go back to tech for a while to make sure I can keep working as a freelance writer.

You can also check your government’s emergency management plan and actions to alleviate freelance business struggles. Usually, subsidies aren’t big enough to support a person or a family, but some governments are offering to postpone tax payments. 

If nothing else works, you can always ask for help. While I wouldn’t recommend taking instant loans, you can find support in your family or friend circle. You could explain your situation and make it clear how difficult it is at this moment, but the money would pay off. Just make sure you can keep your word.

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Limit social media 

Although you probably use your social media to connect with clients and users, it can have a significantly negative impact on you. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t handle it anymore, and I deleted my Twitter account and deleted the Instagram app from my phone. 

It was harsh to delete the Twitter account, but I needed it. There was too much noise and anger, but I couldn’t help but consume every opinion and word. And guess what – after deleting apps, I felt so much better. Aside from positivity, muting social media improved my focus and productivity. 

You don’t have to be as extreme as I was but think about the emotions social media brings to you. Do you feel good about yourself after scrolling, or do you want to throw your phone through the window? If so, just by deleting apps from your phone, you should see a big difference. Perhaps, you decide to mute it on your computer, which also benefits your mental health and productivity in many ways.

I know that many think that just by deleting their social media, they lose touch with what’s happening in the world and their position as careful observers. But you can still support the cause without damaging your mental health. You can read a trusted source of information and take action in your own way that makes you feel comfortable. 

Fresh air to refresh your mind

Sun and fresh air can do miracles. Less than an hour a day outside can help you balance your thoughts and manage fears. Being locked in your apartment makes you feel trapped and confused. Especially now, when not that many public working spaces are open. But getting fresh air and enough physical activity can help manage unwanted thoughts and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But most importantly – don’t forget that you’re not alone

When I struggle with money or work, my morale drops. I feel ashamed, I feel like I failed myself and people around me. But that’s not true. The world is going through a transition, and, normally, things change in your life as well.

As a freelance business owner, you are responsible for too many things, and sometimes stress takes a toll on you. Many people are suffering from job loss, financial insecurity, but there are ways to help yourself. Find what feels right and makes you calm. Unapologetically do it, and don’t care about what others think, because now you need extra self-care. 

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