It's Mental Health Awareness Week, which means it's a good week to sit back, reassess and take some time out to think about self-care.
I absolutely implore people who are busting a gut in the gig-economy and freelancing the shit out of life, to think about this a lot. Being a lone wolf can be mentally exhausting. When it's good, it's good; who's getting all that undiluted praise for a project, it's you! But when thing's are bad...whose shoulders carry the weight of negative feedback? Hey, it's also you.
When it's just you, on your tod in your office (library/bedroom/sofa) - you have to be everything. You have to be Ms Motivator, ready to jump into action with some inspirational phrases and emergency chocolate. But you can also be Ms Moan..."you're shit at this", "pack it in, mate", "doing a normal job is much easier y'know", "YOU CAN'T WRITE".
You have to build yourself up, but my god, you can also knock yourself down.
So, what can you do? Well, if freelancing has taught me anything then it's to try and put things into perspective, don't take things personally and work on growing the skin of a rhino.
Here are my tips for self-care:
- Stop - If things are getting on top of you and your mental health is beginning to suffer then give yourself a break. Stick some Netflix on, forget your emails and do things that make you feel relaxed and happy.
- Surround yourself with support - Having a network of people that understand what you do or do something similar is a good idea. They can be a sounding board for your woes and problems and can offer some stellar advice. Go to these fabulous people when you're feeling low.
- Socialise - With worries about where your next pay cheque is coming from ALL THE TIME - it's easy to go into overdrive and neglect your social life because you're working all the time. Don't do that, try and have a balanced life. Think about those lucky sods in an agency that leave at 5, why should you be working through the night?! If you can't enjoy the benefits of freelancing (time, freedom, regular snacks) then what's the point?
- Take a hike - I cannot emphasise enough how great walking is when you're a writer or stare at a screen all day. Taking regular breaks and actually seeing sunlight, will do great things for your creativity and give you some glorious vitamin D.
- Don't take on every job - It's okay to say no to people. Just because you're freelance doesn't mean you have to take on every job. This is how you get bogged down in the first place, so be realistic.
- Candles - Lighting candles and basking in their glory is weirdly satisfying. It always will be.
- Get a dog - This is a big commitment but dogs are fucking great. Other pets are cool too. Dogs are the perfect distraction from annoying clients and they will always love you and you can take them for walks and meet people.
Hope that helps a bit and remember, YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB, I BELIEVE IN YOU!
Now here's the important shit, a photo of a West Highland Terrier (best dog ever).