When you work for an employer, they’re responsible for your wellbeing and mental health. However, when you’re self-employed, and you are the boss, it’s sometimes difficult to remember to care for your own mental health.
Being self-employed means wearing many hats, especially if you’re the only employee. The day-to-day tasks can be overwhelming. You need to get projects done on time, take care of taxes, market your business in the search for new clients, and so much more. When you need to take care of everything, the last thing you may consider is your own mental wellbeing. It’s also difficult to take a much-needed day off if you’re self-employed.
To turn things around, it’s necessary to take time to consider the problem. Set aside some time to review the issue. See what’s causing your stress and find ways to build yourself up and get the support you need.
Main Stressors for the Self-Employed
There are three main stressors for those who are self-employed:
External: maybe you haven’t heard from your client for a while, or they didn’t pay. These are things that are completely outside your control.
Behavioral: you may worry that you’re too busy or that you’re not busy enough. This stressor involves how you work and what you need to work.
Emotional: you may feel that you’ll never find work, you’re not good enough, be worried about finances, and more. These are thoughts that can become a distraction and keep you from working.
There are some steps you can take to solve these types of stressors as a self-employed person. We’ll look at those in the next sections.
Record Your Stressors – Both Positive & Negative
Before sharing your stressors with someone else, it can be helpful to keep a journal. Record your emotions, thoughts, and problems. Then these will provide the information on what’s causing the stress you’re experiencing.
Next, try to understand your stressors. This is why it’s essential to write them down each day. You’ll have a record of what’s going on inside your head without having to remember everything. When you reach the end of the day, jot down some positive and negative experiences you’ve had that day. Were you excited by something? Did you have worries to contend with?
Whatever they are, write down your worries and fears. You’ll have a record to use for reflection at the end of the week. Themes should become readily apparent through this process. After you’ve done this for a time, you’ll see some major patterns, which can provide you with the clues needed to relieve the stress you’re experiencing.
You don’t need anything special to record your stressors. Just choose a method that you’re comfortable with and will use on a daily basis. You can use a notebook, a doc file on your computer, or even make voice recordings. Just find a method that works and stick with it.
Share Your Stressors with Others
Once you’ve gotten your stressors recorded, then consider sharing them with others. Sharing the load with others can help relieve your stress, as well as find new solutions and techniques that can help you to cope.
There are many communities for self-employed individuals, where you can find people who are in the same category as you. Some of these groups are even industry-based. For instance, there are groups for self-employed parents, self-employed designers, and even groups for freelance writers and journalists. You can find some of these groups through Google searches or by asking other individuals who are self-employed.
Don’t hesitate to reach out. This is a great way to find you’re not alone in the types of issues you’re facing. You’ll be able to hear about the issues faced by others who are self-employed. It may surprise you what everyone else is dealing with. And you may make new friends, learn about new software/apps, techniques, and more that can help you manage the stress.
Commit to Regular Check-Ins
Be sure to make time for regular check-ins with your group(s) and communities. Even just five to ten minutes can make a huge difference in how you’re feeling. Make this a routine part of your week, and you’ll find the support you need.
What’s more, you may even find that it’s possible to start a group yourself! If there isn’t a local community or support group, then perhaps consider setting one up to help yourself and others in your neighborhood or town. You can set up weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings, whatever works best for your and your new friends.
One more note—as well as sharing some of the issues you’re facing, be sure to share the positives, too. You may just give someone else the inspiration they need for their own situation!
Build Resilience & Ways to Work
Next, when you have a record of your main stressors, it’s time to start taking care of them. You may find some of the stressors you’re dealing with are unique to you. That’s OK. Even so, you may be able to find answers with your new groups and communities.
And remember, there are other resources available, too. You may check at your local library or chamber of commerce for information on how to build resilience and finding ways to work well. Take advantage of everything that seems logical for your situation. It may take some time, but with consistent effort, you’ll start to see results and feel better!
Put Proactive Foundations in Place
What do we mean by proactive foundations? We are referring to those common areas that most self-employed people need to deal with. These include health habits, support networks, working relationships, financial futures, learning & development. These are the foundations of a self-employment business.
Taking a proactive stance on these topics can keep you from reacting. Instead, you’ll have plans in place for each category. Make a commitment to tackle these by setting aside time each week. Reach out when you get stuck. Soon, you’ll be feeling less stressed as plans begin to develop.
Don’t Show a Brave Face
Want to add more stress to your life? Then put on a brave face and pretend everything’s just fine! Instead, take control of your stressors and create plans & methods for dealing with them. The sooner you do this, the better you’ll feel, and the more successful your business will be!
Written By Liam Pedley