10 mental health tips and practices for freelancers

Every 10th of October, society comes together to celebrate World Mental Health day. World Mental Health Day lets individuals know that we are here to support their mental well-being while bringing awareness and education to the topic.

Loneliness in the workplace can be a trigger for poor mental health and low work ethic. Freelancers often work alone, perhaps collaborating with other freelancers on occasion, but having no one to talk to regularly can lead to closing yourself off from the world. Freelancing can be tough as you often do not have that everyday experience most permanent employees have where they are able to engage with their colleagues, so learning how to support yourself is important.

Here are 10 mental health tips and practices for freelancers to help improve their well-being and mental health while working.


1. Connect and network with other freelancers

Freelancing can often make you feel isolated due to being the only one on your team. No one to talk to other than your clients can lead to a quiet day, and leave you questioning whether freelancing was the right career move for you.

Connecting with other freelancers will allow you to develop networking friendships, as well as further expand your services to others. Reach out to others on social media such as the professional platform LinkedIn, or sign-up for conferences to meet other freelancers in your industry.

Freelance networking events or conferences are a great way to meet individuals so take this opportunity to make friends, meet potential clients and share contact details. Being in a community of people will help you break up your working day, whether you are meeting up in person or talking online.

The FreelanceUK forum is the perfect place to meet other freelancers. As well as its professional areas, it also allows space for talking about topics other than work which can help you to relax and form more friendly relationships.


2. Learn a new skill

It is never too late to learn a new skill. Developing a skill you already have or learning a new skill that you want to add to your portfolio can help take your mind off any worries or concerns that you have while you indulge in a new and exciting project.

Learning a new skill can not only help boost your confidence and stimulate your brain, it can also benefit others around you. Whether this is your fellow freelancers who can learn from your new knowledge, or your clients who can now access these additional services. Getting creative and being pro-active in your learning and upskilling can show clients what you are capable of and ultimately help improve the work you provide for them.


3. Flexible hours

Maintaining a work/life balance can lead to improved mental health. Having a flexible schedule will often result in a more positive individual, allowing you time to run errands, see friends and work at times that suit you.

Taking time to see friends and family can actually make you more productive and motivated in the workplace, as you’ve taken time away to refresh. This increased motivation results in increased satisfaction from clients, so it’s win win! Take advantage of the flexible hours being a freelancer brings, as it will help you to create a life outside of your home office and benefit your mental health.


4. Take regular breaks

Freelancers can have work breaks more freely due to their flexible work schedules. Getting up to make a cup of tea or walking around the room for 5 minutes can significantly alter your mood for the day and also improve your posture so you aren’t sitting down for hours.

Give your mind a break throughout the day by not staring at a screen, this will help rejuvenate your eyes and reduce headaches. Taking regular breaks can also give you a fresh perspective when coming back to client projects, getting the work done quicker and allowing for more free time around work.


5. Go for a walk

Flexible working lets you take time for yourself and relax throughout the day while maintaining multiple projects. Make the most of this flexibility, and go for walks or other exercise. Walking will help stretch your body out after potentially sitting at a desk for hours, as well as helping your mind relax.

Walking often helps your mind to clear thoughts, particularly helpful if you are experiencing a mental block with your work. Taking a daily stroll will help you get better sleep at night too to prepare for the next working day, while also releasing endorphins to help you return to your workspace more happily and healthily.


6. Take part in yoga

Sitting around all day can be bad for the mind and body, feeling restricted being in one place. Taking part in yoga, daily or weekly, can improve your mental well-being and create a better start to your day. Breathing exercises can reduce stress and release serotonin to make you feel happier as your day begins so find out any classes available either online or in person.

The routine of yoga gives you structure, something that freelancers might not always have due to the sometimes uncertain nature of their work schedule. This routine will enable a better way to deal with stress and remain constant, unlike waiting around for the next freelance project to become available.


7. Set up an office space

Setting up an office space gives you room to breathe in your house. Separating your social and work life can be difficult if you work from home, so having a separate workspace can ease the two different lifestyles.

Choose a room with good lighting and space for plants as both of these are attributes to a successful home office and improved well-being. You’ll spend the majority of your time in your house so make sure that you do maintain a suitable workplace, this should be a place that you want to stay and work in, and not move to the sofa.


8. Don’t stay up all night

Flexible working can lead to late nights, whether you are working overtime or this is the hours you choose. If you decide to work through the night and sleep through the day, this can damage your sleeping schedule. 7 hours of sleep is the recommended amount for an adult in order to feel refreshed and ready to work the average 9-5 shift. For freelancers, sleep is essential to refuel, take time for a 30-minute nap if you end up working later than expected. This will help you not to feel groggy and unmotivated for the next working day.


9. Set a work routine

Juggling different projects can be difficult and it can sometimes be easy to lose track of where you are at with each one. Creating a routine for your work can help with organisation and keeping on top of things. With a varied work schedule, setting a daily routine will help improve your mental health too. Set a time for a shower and breakfast as this will help with a morning routine and set you up for the working day. Even if you aren’t receiving regular freelance work, take advantage of a morning routine so you start the day on with purpose and don’t feel lost.


10. Avoid burnout

Burnout can have a mental and physical impact on freelancers, often caused by stress and leading to exhaustion. Freelancing can suffer burnout from having taking on too many projects, client fallouts, or even finances.

The first step to avoiding burnout out is making yourself aware of what some of the warning signs of a burnout are, for example low energy, having trouble sleeping, experiencing physical complaints like headaches or having feelings of emptiness. The second step is to focus on strategies which will help you avoid burnout. For example rediscovering your purpose in your career, eating a balanced diet, exercising and learning some techniques to help manage stress like positive thinking and meditation.


These top 10 tips will help you as a freelancer to prioritise self-care, look after your mental health and not become overwhelmed with your work.

Read more about how to deal with stress as a freelancer and achieving a work-life balance as a freelancer.