How to Reduce Stress When You’re Self-Employed

It doesn’t matter your industry or occupation, there’s always going to be stress in any competitive, growing career. But as a self-employed individual, you face exponentially higher stakes. There’s nobody else to cover for you. There’s no paycheck security. It’s all on you. And if you aren’t careful, this pressure can lead to inordinate amounts of stress – the likes of which can kill your productivity and negatively impact your physical and mental health.

Thankfully, you don’t have to live like this. By learning how to reduce stress and cope with the pressures of your career as a self-employed professional, you can live a happier and healthier life.

Try These 6 Stress-Defeating Tactics

Defeating stress requires a strategic approach layered with discipline and intentionality. Here are some specific tips designed with self-employed professionals in mind;

1. Identify Your Priorities

So much of reducing stress is understanding where to devote your time and energy. And it’s impossible to excel in this area if you don’t understand what your priorities are.

Take some time to get clear on your priorities – both macro and micro. Here’s what is meant by this:

  • Macro: What are your priorities in life? And how do they rank when compared against one another? For most, it’s some combination of family, career, spirituality, hobbies, etc.
  • Micro: Within each of these priorities, you have micro priorities. Take your job, for example. How do you rank different activities like sales, marketing, customer service, etc.?

By writing out these priorities, you solidify a clear hierarchy. This will be used to determine how and where you spend your time – thereby reducing the amount of energy you have to spend deciding which tasks to tackle first.

2. Set Hours

When you’re a W-2 employee, it’s fairly easy to clock out, go home, and forget about work until you return the following day. When you’re self-employed, shutting down is much more difficult. But you still need to in order to relax and unwind.

For best results, create your own work hours. And when it’s time to “clock out,” follow these pre-set guidelines. While there will be times when you can’t stop on a dime, you’d be surprised how often you’re able to tune out without missing something.

3. Learn to Delegate

One of the big struggles self-employed individuals often make is feeling as if they have to do everything on their own. And while this is fine in the early days, it becomes unsustainable as you grow.

Learning to delegate certain tasks and responsibilities will free up time and mental energy for you to focus on the things that matter most. (This reduces stress and gives you more free time to enjoy your life outside of work.)

Sometimes there’s an easy solution for delegating. Landlords, for example, can hire a property management service to streamline 90 to 95 percent of their responsibilities. Other times, it takes a little more effort. If you run a marketing company, for example, you might need to hire contractors who specialize in different areas like copywriting, graphics, SEO, etc.

4. Pay Yourself in Self-Care

When you’re self-employed, you can’t always pay yourself a bonus. You can, however, reward yourself for hard work by paying in self-care.

“You can keep it simple: take breaks during the day for exercise and stretching, ensure that you’re not skipping a nutritious breakfast and lunch to do more work, and guard your time for sleep from that urge to respond to just one more email,” FlexJobs explains.

5. Stay Organized

One surefire way to reduce stress is to stay organized – especially with accounting. When your finances are in order, it provides much better clarity of the business. As a result, you’re able to move with conviction and not worry nearly as much about things like taxes, insurance, and profit margins.

6. Find Support

It’s one thing to have a supportive spouse and/or friends, but nobody truly understands the stress and rigors of being self-employed unless they’re walking that walk as well. That’s why it’s helpful to find support from other entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals. Consider forming a local networking group to encourage and support one another.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Success is such a variable word. It means different things to different people – and your definition may change over time. But regardless of what you define as success, learning to reduce stress and eliminate friction from your regular rhythms and routines will play a key factor in helping you achieve what you’re chasing after.