Happy new year, freelancers!
Surely 2020 has been an interesting one for all of you, in both good and bad ways. After an initial discouraging time of radio silence and cancelled projects, it seems that some clients are finally starting to come back, as our Creativepool Coronavirus Survey found out some months ago – and as other freelancers such as Nick Carson have fortunately confirmed to us.
Still, a few problems remain. Even if this unfortunate financial situation is slowly but surely starting to improve, it remains the fact that 2021 may be yet another lonely year, at least and at minimum in the first 6 months. We’ve seen loneliness and isolation take its toll on the mental health of creatives all around the world, and you would think that freelancers were quite used to working alone. Well, not necessarily.
Image credit: Muhammad Waseem
How to fight loneliness as a freelancer
While it may be true for some freelancers, isolation can still feel like a big deal to the most extroverted creatives, and we shouldn’t forget the sheer amount of former full-time employees who are now resorting to freelance work, for one reason or the other.
Some have gone as far as to define 2021 the year of freelancers, meaning there are likely to be a lot more self-employed starting out this year than in previous years. And freelancing can feel lonely. So how do you fend off that issue, and how do you take care of your own mental health?
Connect with other freelancers
Perhaps the most important advice of all: find some time to connect. If you have someone in your house to spend time with, that’s perfect – but it still won’t hurt to reach out to other professionals and share your stories with one another. If you are a seasoned freelancer, you probably know already that the freelance community is extremely supportive.
You can find loads of active, warm and caring freelance communities across all social platforms, including here on Creativepool.
Image credit: Samuel Carrillo
Jump on more calls than usual
Your room can feel so empty when all you’re doing is eating, sleeping and working all day. As an introvert, I’m a big fan of not picking up the phone to actually get on a phone call with people, and I’d much rather be left alone. But you wouldn’t believe how helpful it can be to just hear the voice of another human being.
Call your friends, partner, fellow freelancers or close relatives. They’ll always have something to say, and simply talking with them is bound to cheer you up a lot.
Go for a walk
Mask on, hand sanitiser in your pockets, headphones around your ears and you’re all set; having a simple walk through the park near home can be incredibly refreshing, no matter how much you can hate the outside world right now. It will also keep you healthy and exercised to do so.
Maybe choose a good podcast to keep you company in your outside hours. Some of my personal favourites include the Glass Cannon Podcast (great storytelling if you’re into tabletop RPGs), Draft Zero for all the screenwriters out there and Script Lock if you enjoy game design.
Image credit: Sergio Onzari
If you are already in a community of freelancers, why not be the one encouraging others to reach out? We all feel somewhat lonely these days, but not everyone will have the confidence or strength to admit it. By taking the first step and offering your support (especially on social media), you may be pushing someone in the right direction.
It will also lead you to connect with others, which in turn will help you stay more active in a community. See? There’s no way you can lose with selflessness.
There are some great workaholics out there (who, me?) who can’t stay put for too long without getting their hands dirty with this or that new skill. Still, why not? Maybe learning something new can take your head off of other things. Take a course here, a video tutorial there, have some fun with online resources and see if you can up your freelance skills.
Not only will you fight off loneliness – you will develop new skills and advance your craft in ways that will enormously benefit your business in the long run.
Learn to know your own mind
I’m not personally a big fan of meditation and spiritual practices, but I hear it helps. There are tons of mindfulness apps out there that can help you filter out the stress of your daily tasks to channel it into positive energy. It sounds like a lot of gibberish, but so many have found innumerable benefits by unplugging for as little as 30 minutes a day.
It can’t hurt to try, right?
Image credit: Stefania Papayanni
Gaming, Netflix and chill?
It may sound counterproductive – why would I want to isolate in front of a screen to fight loneliness? But in truth, you wouldn’t believe how many times gaming has saved me from going mad in the darkest days of my university life. All those interactive stories keep your brain in constant alert and, if you are a perfectionist like I am, the hardest challenges will also give you a beautiful sense of achievement.
You could also try and explore Netflix for something you wouldn’t usually watch. My 2021 started by binge-watching Friends for the first time, and those six have kept me a good deal of company in these first few weeks.
Find a pet!
My dreams of adopting a cat in 2020 vanished into thin air, and I suppose it will be the same for my 2021. But if you can, please adopt a pet! Be it a dog or a cat, a fish or a hamster, whatever you choose will keep you company and cheer you up whenever you feel lost.
Plus, you’ll have a real excuse to send pet videos to your friends now.
MindFull, a newborn platform by Nalla Design
Take advantage of online help and resources
Just as I was about to publish this piece, the folks at Nalla Design got in touch with their newly released mental health platform, MindFull. The website hosts advice categories by feelings, with book and video resources for all kinds of mental health issues.
Like MindFull, there’s a plethora of resources out there that can help you out if needed. Just remember that, if you truly feel down and depressed, nothing can replace the professional advice of a mental health specialist. But there’s nothing wrong in wanting to work things out by yourself, either – so long as you’re moving in a clear and positive direction.
Remember: it’s not your fault
Most importantly, don’t forget this has nothing to do with you. This pandemic is out of everybody’s best attempts to control it, governments included. What can a single person to where entire organisations scramble to distribute vaccines? This pandemic has nothing to do with you and you should remember that things will go back to normal soon.
That should keep you encouraged, hopeful and motivated, until a brighter tomorrow approaches.