Hands up if you have ever contemplated quitting your desk job and chasing after the #digitalnomad dream! 🙋
Many of us have sighed wistfully over Instagram posts of our freelancing friends lounging on a beach in Bali with their laptops balanced on their legs (and quietly wondered how they weren’t left with burn marks), but it’s easy to forget that freelancing can also mean: lack of job security, long hours, “will this client pay me on time?” anxiety, non-existent sick days or vacation time, and it can be a pretty isolating profession.
Recent reports estimate that by 2020, over 60 million people will be independent workers – freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees – which shows that whilst there are some downsides, the perks must make it worth it. However, another major report by the NHS Digital suggests that more than one-quarter of women aged between 16 and 24 are suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depression. Mental illnesses that can become worse if isolated and stressed.
I’ve been freelancing as a digital marketer for over a year, and I’ve been dealing with a moderate anxiety and panic disorder for my entire life – balancing both can be a challenge. Freelancing can leave you with no daily routine or structure in your life, pressure from clients, unpaid invoices, and a tendency to work in the comfort zone that is your bed with coffee replacing all meals. All of this can lead to a very unhappy, frazzled, and uninspired mind – at least it did for me. I realized that if I wanted to keep the panic attacks at bay and lead a more productive and balanced life, I would need to make some changes. So I created a routine for myself that would ensure I took care of my work, whilst also taking care of myself.
Meditation makes it possible to take responsibility for our state of mind and our feelings – and to change them for the better. By engaging with a particular meditation practice, you can learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of thinking. I try to do 5 minutes in the morning (I get bored after that) to prepare my brain for the day ahead and get everything my thoughts in order. Also, during that mid-day slump, I’ll use the Headspace app for 10 minutes to give myself a break, rest my eyes, and re-energize my mind.
Release those endorphins! I’ve found regularly exercising to be the most effective way to manage my anxiety and panic attacks. Exercise is also a healthy coping tool in general. Coping is about making sure that you’re spending time in ways that are good for your mental and physical health, and exercise is most certainly a way to do that. Why not invite your vinas to a hardcore spin class and grab a protein shake afterwards? Remember, vinas that workout together, stay together.
Freelancing can be a long and lonely road, and relationships are often pushed to the side when you’re trying to juggle clients and manage a crazy workload – but without a friendly office team to support you, you need your vinas now more than ever. Organize a slumber party with your faves, catch up once a week over coffee, or even just touch base at the end of the day with a sweet, simple text. Don’t worry about giving off “bad vibes”, if you’re having a bad day, tell someone. You’ll be surprised by the support you’ll receive if you just reach out!
GETTING OUT MORE
It’s so easy to get stuck under the covers, so even if it just means working in a coffee shop once a week instead of your kitchen table, forking out for desk space in a communal office, or exploring your city on a quiet Sunday – get out more! You’ll be surprised where creativity can strike. This could also be a great time to meet some new vinas in your area through the Hey! Vina app – two birds with one stone!
With so many young women suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues (freelancing or not), I think it’s important that we share our personal stories – and our solutions that may be of help to other vinas. Are you a free-lancer? Does staying connected help with the loneliness of lacking an office culture or social life?
(Feature image via Bloguettes)