Freelancing stress: what it is, and how to cope with it…

Whether you’ve just begun to freelance, or are a seasoned professional, freelancing stress is a common experience. Freelancing is not without its misconceptions. For example, you might be stressed out in your “real life” job, and want to switch over to freelancing for the perceived freedom of it all.

Actually, there can be more stress in freelancing, particularly if you don’t have set clients. It’s one thing to make an hourly wage, it’s quite another to spend hours just looking for a wage.

Set limits, and stick to them.

Burnout can be thought of as a little dark cloud that hovers over us freelancers as we work. Looking for new jobs, managing several different deadlines, rinse, repeat…so goes a typical freelancing schedule. Even if you’re more laid-back in your approach to work, burnout can catch up to you in the most unexpected of ways.

It can be tempting to take a bunch of freelancing projects at once, particularly if you’ve got bills to pay or presents to buy. Don’t choose this route for projects with tight deadlines unless you’re extraordinarily disciplined and know you can get them done thoroughly. Even then, after a cluster of freelancing projects, allow yourself downtime to recharge.

If you decide to work on freelancing projects with longer deadlines, stagger them so that you’re not working on more than two projects at a time on any given day. All the while, consider avoiding projects with large time zone differences unless you’re working on just one such project. You know how much work you can realistically handle while keeping a balanced state of mind – honor that.

Aspire to get more air.

It’s true: fresh air does wonders for calming the harried mind in the middle of a freelancing workday. Even just opening a window near your workspace (when the weather’s nice, of course) can be a wonderful energizer, and a healthier alternative to caffeine!

Be motivated to move.

If you spend literally hours sitting at a desk without moving much beyond typing, your circulation can suffer and your stress can skyrocket. Make a point of getting up and moving around at regular intervals. Perhaps you’d like to take a walk as part of a midday break. It could even be just as simple as 5 minutes of walking around your workspace.

Music, maybe?

Listening to music is a great way to relieve stress while working, if you have the option of doing so – transcribers, that would have to take place during your breaks! Music can actually improve focus, too; consider classical music, such as Mozart, whose music, it has been posited, elevates intelligence quotients!

Keep comfy.

A comfortable, distraction-free workspace that you love can be a great shield against stress. Or, create a space in your home for after your workday where you don’t “take it with you.” Remember, freelancing is not worth losing your health.

Work isn’t what’s most important.

Freelancing stress can also come about as a byproduct of not having enough free time for anything, or anyone else. Yes, most freelancing opportunities have a learning curve that can take a while to master in the time-spent-to-money-earned-fairly department. However, it’s up to you to recognize when a job isn’t worth it in the long run, especially if you’ve left everything else behind in your quest for a paycheck.

If there’s one thing that the world is teaching us, it’s that we need to cherish our connections with others and with nature. If you spend most of your waking hours either working, or worrying about work, the years will go by and you’ll have missed so much. A laugh, a hug, a wondrous moon, the sounds of doves cooing in the crisp morning air – treasure these, and the stress will melt away.

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