One of the un-glorious things about being a freelance writer is the increase in stress.
You would think that quitting your soul-crushing job would mean a stress free creative business and fun freelance writing jobs, but that isn’t always the case.
I love to write and blog and I love networking and getting to know business owners, but sometimes when I am presented with a project, I get doubts and am not sure if I can do this.
And, when I say yes, the stress starts to flood in! Now I actually have to write this case study or landing page or blog post or media kit page.
While freelance writing may be a dream for you, often it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
While many new freelancers think of sitting in their favorite coffee shop sipping their favorite caffeinated beverage while eagerly typing away, this dream is often stifled by a harsher reality.
Freelance writing stress is real, especially for new writers and those that haven’t found their groove or figured out how to effectively manage their stress.
But if you are following your dreams of becoming a freelance writer, why do freelance writers experience so much stress?
What are some of the best tools and activities that we freelance writers can use to manage the stress we experience from day to day (other than avoiding our responsibilities by scrolling social media)?
Why Is Entrepreneurship So Stressful?
With more than 5 million U.S. employees working from home at least part time, 91% feel that working remotely helps them to achieve a better work-life balance.
However, around 41% of mobile employees feel degrees of stress.
That’s a lot of stressed out people!
Freelancing looks different for everyone.
Perhaps you are a single 20-something living in your parents basement without a bill to pay. Or maybe you are a mother to 2, 4, or even 6 children trying to find freelance writing gigs during those precious nap times and in between changing diapers and wiping God knows what off of the kitchen table.
Let’s face it, no matter what boat you floated in on, entrepreneurship is freaking stressful!
While the initial novelty of working from home is exciting, it can quickly wear off.
While you don’t have to worry about things like commutes, toxic work environments, and co-workers eating your lunch out of the fridge (even though it was clearly labeled!) working from home, freelancing, and being an entrepreneur includes a whole host of other stressors.
What are these stressors?
Structure…or lack thereof…
There is often a lack of structure, especially when your co-workers are your kids. Most humans crave structure and thrive on it.
While waking up to your alarm to commute to work sucks, it both mentally and physically prepares you for your work day. It can be difficult for many to create a self-imposed structure like they once had in a traditional work environment while sitting around in pjs.
But even though you work for yourself, structure is one of the keys to accomplishing your tasks.
For various schedules depending on how many hours you are freelancing, check out my time management post.
Oh so many distractions!
Barking dogs, loud kids, dishes piled in the sink, a basket of laundry, those muffins you made over the weekend, there are countless distractions when working from home as a freelancer.
For those individuals indoctrinated as 9-5ers, it can be difficult to realize that freelancers still need to actually work. Just because we are home all day doesn’t mean we have the time to let the neighbor’s dog out or watch your kids while you run to the grocery store.
Freelancers can experience these kinds of distractions all day long. As freelancers we need to set boundaries for both ourselves and those around us.
And speaking of boundaries…
Setting boundaries can be like setting actual office hours to help minimize distractions.
If you have the luxury of having a home office that is closed off from the rest of your home, use that door! You also need to have lines between leisure and productive time, otherwise known as that mysterious work-life balance that everyone talks about.
I fortunately have my own office, but we are moving and my office is now also going to be the guest room with a bed and dresser! If you need more ideas, check out my post on small home office ideas.
An inability to focus
“Oh I should check my Facebook feed again, and my email for the 50th time, and then my Instagram for good measure, and I have to order some more energy drinks from Amazon…”
An inability to focus means both internal and external distractions.
It can be difficult to obtain your goals when you are tired, drained of energy, and everything else seems more interesting than finishing that article.
And for me, this is hard! I recently started an Instagram profile and for a good week I was absorbed on following others and creating content for that platform. This was unhealthy and not the way to manage my stress.
While this might sound like bliss to an introvert, we introverts still need to vent and be able to talk about our day once and awhile (other than to a toddler or pet).
Trying to maintain social relationships can also lead to lack of focus and boundary setting. While we might want to reach out to our friends during the day, it can quickly turn into a huge time suck!
Before the pandemic I would meet up with my IRL freelance writing friend for coffee. It was a great time to reflect, dish and vent!
Tools To Manage Freelance Writing Stress
So with knowing the triggers that may cause stress, let’s look at how we can manage stress as a freelance writer.
1. Noise Cancelling Headphones
These noise cancelling headphones can be a lifesaver for noisier environments (ie: when kids are home). While you don’t need to get the most expensive pair, a good pair is certainly worth the investment.
My husband has a pair, but his are too big, so I’m shopping around for a good fit.
2. Zone in With Music
When you are establishing your writer’s routine, it can be helpful to put together a playlist or listen to specific types of music to get in the zone.
Check out these channels to help you boost your productivity.
I use music to calm me every day. It gets me in the mood to write and be creative and I have to be in a good mood to write!
Cultivate mindfulness and create a calm focus by including some relaxation apps into your daily routine. Like this crazy looking headband and mobile app that will help you to train your brain for “low-stress productivity.”
4. Office Accessories
As a writer, you are in your office (or something that resembles an office) and on your computer A LOT!
Make sure that you are taking measures to create a comfortable and stress-free environment.
This could be getting a super comfy office chair or opting for a standing desk. Thick ergonomics before fashion. But of course, you should also include office decor that makes you smile and feel good in that setting.
Check out my post on cheap office supplies to help you organize your desk.
5. Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Take some of the stress off of your eyes when staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Blue light glasses help to reduce eye strain, get better sleep, and minimize digital headaches – and they are chic looking!
Drink something other than sugary coffee or energy drinks when you work on your freelance writing projects.
Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated?
This can lead to brain fog, constant and unhealthy snacking, fatigue, irritability, slow metabolism, and tons of other ailments you don’t want. If you need a reminder, try a water tracking app or just grab yourself a gallon water bottle and aim to finish it every day.
Besides, drinking that much water will force you to take those necessary breaks!
I do drink coffee but only once a day and only drink water throughout the day. Where I live it’s cold most of the year so the heater is constantly one and drying my environment, so drinking water is important for me.
Activities To Manage Freelance Writing Stress
While there are plenty of tools to use to help reduce freelance writing stress, you can also add some free and easy activities to your arsenal.
1. Take a Break
While we can sometimes get lost in our work, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we need to physically take a break from it.
This can be switching off every 45 minutes to an hour to do a quick chore (like folding that laundry) or just stepping away from your computer to give your eyes and brain a rest.
If you are familiar with the Pomodoro technique, and don’t already use it, then you should check out the Tomato Timer.
Simply turn this on and work on a task for 25 minutes straight, without distraction, take a break, then continue the task or move onto the next one.
I recently took a whole day off – I know! But, the internet didn’t implode and my clients still remembered me! – and organized my office, decluttered my twins’ rooms and cleaned up the rest of the house.
It was grueling and not my favorite activity, but now, the next day, I am energized, happier and will be more productive!
2. Go for a Walk
If it’s nice out, then get outside and get some fresh air!
Take the dog for a quick walk around the block or take a longer break and take the kids to the park for a bit.
Either way, just because you are a freelancer working from home doesn’t mean that you should be a hermit that never sees the light of day. Besides, vitamin D does the body good!
I’m trying to do this with the twins but it’s a challenge. The weather is getting colder so the idea of biking isn’t fun and well, walking isn’t fun to a 7 year old! I’ll have to think about doing a scavenger hunt walk or something similar!
3. Let the Sun In
Speaking of vitamin D, make sure that you are getting some sunlight in your office or work area.
While dark coffee shops have a great ambiance, they might also make you tired and decrease productivity. Getting some sunlight, just like a plant, will help you to grow and stay awake.
This is why my husband and I don’t work in our basement. It’s just too dark in this house. We will asses the light in the new house and if it’s good, I may move my office there instead of using the guest room.
Whether you are an avid gym buff or just trying to stay away from those muffins you baked over the weekend, you should always find a way to fit exercise into your daily routine.
Whether you opt for an early morning sweat session or a bike under your desk or folding treadmill – what I will be getting for the move – you can put under your standing desk (yes this is a thing), adding some exercise into your day will help to keep you awake and boost your brain activity.
5. Spend Time with Friends and Family
Again, you don’t have to be a hermit.
I know that hitting that deadline is really important, but it’s also important to not miss out on all those fun activities that normal people do, like date nights and dinner with friends.
Remember that work-life balance we talked about earlier, this is where the life part comes in. What the heck is the point of freelancing when you are tied to your computer 24/7 and don’t get to actually enjoy life?
I make it a point to do family game night every night and family movie night on Fridays (we started watching Air Bud and my twins actually enjoyed it!). I also read to my twins every day and they are starting to read to me!
And now that they are doing school at home, I help them during their independent learning times (away from their teacher) and love it!
Avoid Freelance Writing Stress
There ya go!
My best tips to manage your freelance writing work and avoid or minimize stress.
You WILL have stress, especially if you pick up a high-paying client, do a new type of project, or write about something you have no idea what it is.
But, this is normal.
For your to grow your freelance writing business, you have to step out and try new projects and work with new types of clients. So have fun and tell me in the comments what you do to manage being a freelance writer and stress!
And, if I had to pick freelance writing or working a traditional job, I would hands down ALWAYS pick freelance writing!
It truly is the best job in the world – stress and all!
Please remember to pin me!
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