Freelancing has offered me so much flexibility, freedom, and autonomy, but at the same time, it can also be a source of stress. I have had to put so much energy into learning how to cope with burnout and isolation. It is challenging and tiring, but so so worth it. I'd love to share a few strategies that I have used to navigate these experiences and they might help you too!
Acknowledge and Validate Your Feelings
Start by recognising and acknowledging your feelings of burnout and isolation. You are allowed to feel tired, rejected or scared, however, just because you feel a certain way, doesn’t mean that it is the truth about what's really going on. This has been an important realisation for me. Identifying the root causes can help you develop strategies to address them effectively. Understand that it's normal to experience these emotions, and it's essential to give yourself permission to feel and validate what you're going through. Just don’t get too caught up and allow them to debilitate you.
Establishing boundaries can be quite the challenge. This isn’t only with work, but with friendships, partners, and family. Practice setting clear boundaries to protect your time and energy. Learn to say "no" when necessary and avoid taking on additional responsibilities that can contribute to burnout.
Communicate your boundaries to others and prioritise activities that align with your well-being. Allow yourself regular breaks to rest and recharge. Try incorporating activities that help you relax and rejuvenate, such as practising mindfulness, engaging in hobbies, spending time in nature, or simply taking a walk.
I’ll be the first to admit that seeking support is hard, but once I put my pride aside and admitted I needed people, I became so much healthier. Try reaching out to your support network, this could be friends, family, or colleagues, and discuss your feelings of burnout and isolation. Sharing your experiences with trusted individuals can provide emotional support, different perspectives, and valuable insights. You may assume someone doesn’t understand what you are going through, but you might be surprised.
It's important to seek connection with others. Engage in social activities that align with your interests. Join communities or groups that share your hobbies, passions, or professional interests to foster a sense of belonging. If feelings of burnout and isolation persist and significantly impact your daily life, consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional can provide guidance, support, and strategies to navigate these challenges effectively. Admitting you need help is not weak but a great sign of strength!
Take Care of Your Mind and Body
Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion and no, I don’t mean just take a bubble bath and all your problems will dissolve away (but you totally can, no one stopping you). Treat yourself with love and patience. Understand that burnout and isolation are not personal failures but a common response to challenging circumstances.
Treat yourself with understanding, and self-care. Take care of your physical health as this will have a positive impact on your mental well-being. Maintain a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and ensure you get enough sleep. Physical well-being can help alleviate symptoms of burnout and promote overall resilience. Speaking from experience, I promise this will make you feel better.
Create a Routine and Create Consistency
Sometimes I wish I would wake up and the change I’ve been wanting to see will have just happened. Realistically, that is far off. It takes a lot of work and patience. Try establishing a daily routine that can provide structure and stability. Start with something small, like waking up at the same time every day, and slowly work up to something heftier. This will reduce feelings of overwhelm and isolation. Plan your activities, set achievable goals, and maintain a healthy work-life balance within your routine. It starts now, and it is up to you.