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How to manage stress when you’re self-employed

Some simple strategies can help you to minimise stress when you’re self-employed. Here’ we’ve put together our top eight ways to keep you relaxed and focused.

Dress for success
When you’re working from home, it’s all too easy to sit and work in your old jogging bottoms and comfy t-shirt combo. But it’s a sartorial decision you want to avoid. Psychologically, by putting on work clothes, you’re preparing your mind to focus on that area of your life.

On top of that, you’ll start to associate those joggers that you put on when you’re chilling out with work. Keeping the two things separate is essential for a positive mindset.

Don’t lock yourself away
Self-employment can be a solitary existence. Apart from the odd client meeting or colleague catch-up, you might find yourself working alone for long stretches. But we’re social animals, and interacting with other humans is important for our wellbeing.

To make sure you get your fix of socialising, factor it into your weekly planning. It could just be booking in a coffee with a friend, or popping on for a chat with your mum. Getting away from your work and chatting about the weather will have a positive impact on reducing stress.

Get a sweat on
We all know how important it is to exercise regularly. However, with deadlines to meet and clients to please, getting out for a regular jog or swim can quickly get pushed out of your schedule.

Getting your heart rate up and your blood flowing is good for you both physically and mentally. The release of endorphins that exercise produces has been proven to help with stress, and the time focussed on the task will help with mindfulness.

In short, exercise is vital to your wellbeing. Be sure to make time for it as often as possible.

Patience is a (stress-relieving) virtue
Money is one of the leading causes of stress in the western world. We all need it, and not having it makes us anxious. But as a self-employed person, your next paycheck isn’t guaranteed. And, if the work isn’t pouring in, you might find yourself pulling 18-hour workdays desperately trying to grab that next contract.

Remember that, particularly in the early days of your business, the work might not appear immediately. Getting anxious is natural, but it can be damaging. Instead, focus on the longer term and think about building better long term relationships with potential clients.

It might mean your bank balance is slimmer for a short while. But it’ll help your business further out, and it’ll keep that heart attack at bay.

Lists are your friends
It might feel like an incredibly simple idea, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload making a list can help. Just grab a pen and paper, and write down every little task that is floating around in your head.

Some people recommend starting (or ending) each day by creating a task list. This gets your thoughts and issues down on paper instantly, allowing you to assess and process your workload before the working day even begins.

Learn to prioritise
Making lists will help with managing stress. But learning the fine art of prioritisation will lessen anxiety levels even more, with the bonus of making your working style more efficient.

To prioritise effectively, start by implementing the rule of threes. Once you have your list of tasks written down, pick out the three that need to be done today. Highlight or underline them, and make your aim for the day to finish those three. It sounds easy, but it takes practice to get it honed to perfection.

Get meditating
Okay, this one might require a bit of a leap of faith but, trust us, meditation works. Don’t worry; you don’t have to move to Tibet and shave off your hair to get into it. Instead, start to carve out five minutes every day to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Sounds simple, right? You might be surprised at how much practice it takes.

To help guide you through the wonderful world of meditation, we’d suggest an app called Headspace. It’s no-nonsense, offers guided sessions of five minutes, and gets you started instantly.

Switch off before lights out
A common symptom of work-related stress is insomnia. You work late into the night to get that project finished, jump into bed and suddenly you’re wide awake. It’s frustrating and, if left unchecked, it can be harmful to your health.

To get quality sleep, make sure you give yourself at least an hour to completely shut down after working. Ideally, this should be non-screen related, too. So that might mean a hot bath, a book in bed, or listening to the shipping forecast.

This strategy will be even more effective if you turn it into a routine. Try to keep to the same bedtime every night, and do things in the same order. You’ll wake feeling refreshed and less stressed.

So, you’ve talked getting stressed but what about everything else? Well, to help guide you through the world of self-employment why not sign up to our newsletter? It’s a stress-free zone, we promise.

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