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Self-care for the self-employed


For most people, the positives of being a contractor or freelancer far outweigh the negatives, but there can still be taxes on your mental health. Here, we take a look at what they are and what self-care steps you can take to combat them.

Lack of routine for the self-employed

A lack of routine can be a big issue for the self-employed – particularly freelancers who work from home a lot – and it can result in exhaustion and stress. Perhaps not needing to be in an office means you have a few lie-ins, maybe you take an extended lunch and then don’t get back to work. Either way, you end up cramming your work in during unsociable hours and end up tired and miserable.

Being strict with yourself is essential when you’re self-employed, but if your willpower could do with a bit of help, we suggest trying some of the many time-management apps out there to keep track of how you’re spending your time and help you prioritise your tasks. Toggl and Timely, for instance, help you see where your time is going, while Freedom allows you to block specific sites for set periods to stop procrastination.

Not feeling valued

One of the best bits of being an employee is getting constant feedback on how you’re doing so you always feel valued. Add to this getting paid regularly every month and you feel like your work means something. Being a contractor can mean no feedback at all unless you go hunting for it, and it can mean you have to put up with ignored emails, invoices not being paid and other niggles that add up to leave you feeling devalued.

Try to remember that clients aren’t valuing you as a person (we know that doesn’t sound great, but we’re going somewhere) but, rather, you as a set of skills. It’s not personal. And speaking of skills, help yourself to feel valued by assessing which skills are unique to you and how that makes you useful to clients. Once you’ve done this, boost your rates if they seem low. Value yourself how you would like to be valued.

No work/life balance

Being self-employed is meant to give you a better work/life balance, but many people find it does the opposite as the lines between home and office, leisure time and work time become blurred.

Using tried-and-tested techniques such as switching off your phone (or, at least, turning off notifications) after you’ve finished for the day can be a big help. If this doesn’t seem possible for you, look at apps such as Slack for communication instead of using emails or messaging services. Rather than having a barrage of messages that you feel you need to check and reply to immediately,  you can dip into the app when it’s suitable for you.

You can also give yourself peace of mind by ensuring your contractor insurance is up to date. Take a look at our website to see how we can help you.

If you feel as if you’re already struggling with your mental health, we would advise speaking to your GP or contacting a registered charity such as Mind.

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