How Self Employment Affects my Mental Health & How I Manage it.
Mental health is a hot topic. There are so many out there who fail to think of mental health as an issue, but it’s more of an issue than ever before. I think it’s important to discuss mental health and to be aware. When I started my Full Time “Self Employment” journey …about 6 months into starting a blog, I was unaware of the mental health side effects i’d be dealing with.
Many see the lives of “entrepreneurs, bloggers, content creators, etc.” via social media and assume that their life is ALWAYS on the UPs and never on the DOWNs. This is all a fabrication of what it’s truly like to be self-employed.
Yes, I will admit that working for yourself, and on your own terms comes with a lot of freedoms, BUT it’s not always glitz + glamour. Since becoming self employed, I have been battling health issues, primarily mental health issues.
Today I wanted to make aware of some of the mental health issues that self employed individuals deal with and how to over come these issues! Here’s hoping that this can help someone who is in a similar situation as me.
Feelings of Anxiety
Anxiety can be difficult to explain, mainly because it’s hard to pin point the causation. I have suffered from anxiety since I was much younger. It’s a constant battle of “talking yourself out of it” and trying to catch your breath. Sometimes anxiety will come out of no where and when you least expect it.
Ever since becoming self employed, I started to experience panic attacks. I haven’t had a panic attack since I was about 16-17. These attacks would come even when I am sitting on my couch trying to “relax”.
I think what triggers these attacks is not giving myself a break. I am the type of person who needs to constantly work. I feel anxious when I am not working on my blog + biz because I have a fear that if I take any time away, I will lose all that I have. Although this is probably not true, it is always in the back of my mind.
I also notice that overwhelm triggers my anxiety. If I book too many clients, or set impossible goals for myself, I start to feel anxious.
Some Ways to Help:
Become a smarter planner: I need to learn how to set goals that are obtainable and not out of my reach. Being reasonable about my time is a must.
Stop overbooking: Yes – money is great, but if I am booking too many clients, I start to lose focus of my own content and business. I am only failing myself and my audience.
Take deep breaths: Learning how to take deep breaths and breathing techniques really helps to calm my nerves. Anytime I feel that an anxiety attack is going to come on, I stop what I am doing and utilize breathing techniques. One deep breath, hold for 3, exhale for 4.
Give myself a break: It’s so important to remember to put my work down. As you may know, working from home is pretty damn tough at times. First you have to either motivate yourself to work OR you have to motivate yourself to stop working. For me, I really love to work on my content so I need to learn how to put it down. Sticking to a set schedule helps. After a certain time of the day I need to hide my laptop and unplug from technology. I also try to take 20 minute breaks every hour or so. Get myself outside to see the sunlight.
Related: How to Manage Stress
Feelings of Loneliness + Depression
As a self – employed individual working from home, it’s easy to feel lonely, and with loneliness comes feelings of depression.
Some ways that I have learned to overcome this:
Let Sunlight In: There is nothing worse than working in a dark space. Sunlight makes me instantly feel happier, awake, and motivated. I try to let as much sunlight into my work space as possible. It’s much more motivating this way.
Make time for people: Keeping my social life (that isn’t on social media) alive is important. Since working from home can be extremely lonely, it’s important that I make times for friends, family, and in person interactions. I try to give myself the weekend to spend time with those close to me. I also have a weekend job (waitressing) so that I can keep socializing with others in person. Sometimes the online world can suck the life out of you, and having that time to socialize without being online makes a huge difference.
Switch up the location: The beauty of working from home is that I also have the option to take my work with me where ever I go. If one day I decide I want to work from a coffee shop instead, I will. I find that switching up my location can help to not only feel less lonely, but to get inspired too.
Related: 10 Ways to Live a Happier Life
Poor Eating Habits
This is something I started to experience when I became self-employed. I started to develop poor eating habits. This could go either way; you forget to eat, OR you eat all the time.
It’s easy to say that since I work from home, I have access to my kitchen 24/7. Many would think that I would be snacking and eating all the time. Well, I actually did the opposite.
I was working all the time that I FORGOT to eat. I would realize that it’s 6:00pm and I have yet to eat a single bite of food.
Some ways that I have learned to over this:
Get into a morning routine: I didn’t have a morning routine when I started out. Having a morning routine helps to remind me that I should probably eat breakfast before beginning any work. I make sure to always have a cup of coffee (because duh), and have a bite of food with my cup.
Set reminders: I like to now set reminders on my phone that pretty much tell me that it’s time to put my work down and eat. Crazy, I know.
But what if you have the opposite issue? You are eating all the time?
Again, get yourself into a morning routine so that you make sure to have a good breakfast. THEN hide your snacks. It really is self discipline that will help with the poor eating habits.
Try to keep out of your kitchen unless it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner time. Refrain from snacking, BUT if you want to snack, limit yourself to once or twice a day and utilize portion control.
I also find that it’s super important to stay hydrated. I try to drink water throughout the day to make sure!
Related: How to be your Biggest Motivator
Feelings of Insomnia
I actually developed insomnia when I started my self – employment journey. The reason for this is because a creative mind never sleeps. As much as my body wanted to sleep, my mind wouldn’t let it!
I would find myself tossing and turning in bed all night. I would be thinking of my next content piece, or an e-mail that I forgot to respond to. OR ANYTHING AT ALL. It was extremely difficult. There were even some nights that I would cry because I could not get myself to fall asleep.
Some techniques I have been trying:
I try to refrain from laying in my bed UNLESS it’s for sleeping: I don’t want my mind to become confused. Yes, I work from home, BUT working while laying in bed is just a poor habit. If I only lay down when it’s time to sleep, my mind starts to feel more tired when my head hits my pillow.
Put technology away 1 hour before bed: This is like my “wind down” time. I make sure that an hour before bed my phone, tv, any electronic is put away. YES there are temptations, so I put my phone just out of my reach to try and help. Phone light actually does the opposite of making your mind tired. It actually wakes your mind up.
Take a warm shower or bath 40 mins before bed: I try to do this as well because it helps to relax my mind and body.
Meditation, breathing techniques: There are so many meditation and breathing techniques to help relax your mind, body, and soul! This has been helping a lot. AND if you are anything like me, you can also use sounds to help you fall asleep, like ocean waves, or wind.
Keep it dark: A dark room with no light what so ever helps to put my mind to rest. Even if I have a battery light showing, or my cable box, I NEED to cover it up. Pitch black is important.
Read a book: Reading a book before bed actually helps to make me sleeping. Just something about it!!
Get thoughts out: Being a creative entrepreneur, my mind is always running and trying to tell me new ideas. I like to keep a journal by my bedside so that I can write down any ideas that are keeping me awake. Once I get them out on paper, I can sleep peacefully.
Related: How to Get a Perfect Night’s Sleep
I hope that this has helped to reassure you that you are not alone when it comes to stressing out as a self employed individual! It’s a constant battle. Hoping some of these tips help. Even though there are down sides to being a blogger and working for myself, there are SO many positive sides that outweigh these issues. I love what I do and wouldn’t want it any other way.