With changing government guidelines and a general concern for our collective health, many people are continuing to stay at home as much a possible and are choosing to work from home if they can. While this may minimise the impact on our physical health, our mental health could suffer – so it’s important to know how to get the support you need if you’re staying in.
As a full-time freelancer, there are many reasons why I choose to work from home – not least because my commute is about a 5-second walk! But at the moment, during such a prolonged period of uncertainty, it can feel like a particularly difficult time to be self-employed. Of course, every industry is different and some independent business owners may be having a better time than others but I recently read an article that made me wonder how all you lovely freelancers are getting on and I wanted to share some ideas for getting through the pandemic.
According to new research by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, there has been a 300% rise in people who report their mental heal as being ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. Yet only 17% of self-employed people have accessed support for their mental health, so it’s important to prioritise this in order to cope with these prolonged periods of uncertainty.
Lockdown and the pandemic have clearly shaken the mental health of the freelancing sector. Before the pandemic, many people went freelance for the freedom and flexibility. Now, however, with financial worries mounting and not enough support from government, one in four freelancers are struggling with their mental health.
Chloé Jepps, Head of Research at IPSE
With social distancing measures in place worldwide, traditional forms of mental health support are difficult to access however, the option of online therapy has been available for many years. Getting help from a trained psychologist is now as easy as chatting with your own family over Zoom – you can speak face-to-face online and get the support you need while feeling safe in your own home. If you would like to explore this option click here for more details from a professional online therapy platform.
Another worry of self-employed people is getting ill. Often, they are working freelance so, if they become unwell or need to self-isolate, they may lose out on work. Although some freelancers have key person insurance to cover periods of illness, many of us don’t have this and can’t claim Statutory Sick Pay as a sole-trader.
Sure, the regulations have been temporarily changed during the pandemic so that self-employed people can apply for Universal Credit to the value of SSP – but even better would be to not get ill in the first place. This is precisely why many self-employed people are choosing to work from home as much as they can and avoid unnecessary contact with others. If this is the case for you, there are a couple of things you need to consider.
Firstly, you’ll need to put some putting systems in place to enable you to stay at home. You may need to figure out how to conduct your business online and work out new contactless methods of payment, such as invoicing with PayPal or Quickbooks. Plus, you’ll need methods of getting the materials and supplies you need – even down to your food shopping – to be able to carry on doing your work and running your business without having to leave the house.
The second thing to consider is how being alone will affect your mental health. If you’re a sole-trader perhaps you’re already used to working alone and wouldn’t feel any different. But, for freelancers who regularly see colleagues and clients, it could be a big shift to not see anyone at all.
In this instance, it’s a good idea to join a local freelancers’ forum or co-working space group so that you can still speak to other independent professionals. This allows you to support each other and you won’t feel alone – even chatting with fellow industry workers on Twitter or Instagram would give you that ‘I’m not the only one going through this’ boost.
What other things have you been doing while working from home to boost your mood? How have you changed your freelance business so that you can work safely? Let me know your tips in the comments below, I’d love to get your ideas for maintaining your business AND mental health in the current climate.
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