Mental Health, Physical Health, Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

Working for yourself can lead to burnout – here’s how to fight it

words by: Natasha Marsh
Feb 12, 2021

Work-life balance was hard to find even before the COVID-19 pandemic. And with nearly half the workforce in the country working from home, it’s become even harder to separate work from play.


When you work for yourself, the pressure to continue working and establish a secure income is high. Prior to stay-at-home orders, freelancers could work from homes, cafes, libraries, hotels and other scenic locations that would increase their productivity and creativity. Pre-COVID, it was easier to establish a legitimate sign-off time and unplug when you got home. But the beauty of freelancing is that you make your own schedule, for example if you wanted to start work at 2pm and finish at 4pm, you could; if you want to work from 8am-12pm and then break from 12-4pm and continue, you could as well.


This flexible schedule is a main incentive for wanting to go freelance but acts as a double sword in a pandemic world where it occasionally feels like elongated breaks turn into 16-hour work days, leaving no time for personal time. I’m finding it very hard to play boss, employee, daughter, sibling and friend all at once while maintaining an income. Oftentimes, freelancers have more on our plate and work way outside of the traditional 9 to 5 hours, risking burnout quicker.


To help you deal and keep you from spiraling, we compiled the below tips to slow the burnout fever.


Keep your friends (virtually) close

A strong community can often solve the deepest of problems. Connecting with other freelancers or friends who do opposite work than you could be a great stress relief. Experienced freelancers can also act as a mentor to you and offer advice on how to successfully live a work-life balance.


Help is a Strategy

For me, the biggest lesson as a freelancer was understanding I didn’t have to have it all figured out. Asking for help from your inner circle, professional circle, or role models is not a sign of defeat but a symbol that you want to grow the right direction with the right tools and support to get you there. The right guidance can be critical.


Be Selfish

If like me, you’ve used every room in your house as an office over the past ten months — it’s hard to relax at the end of the day. Taking time for yourself to exercise, cook, watch a show or other pastimes is essential for your mental health. The old adage remains true here: you can’t do your best if you can’t be at your best.


Consider a Timed Schedule

Like I said, the flexible schedule is one of the many joys of freelancing. But if you’re finding your schedule is too spread out, leading to longer working days — consider taking a tip from Corporate America and dedicate a specific set of hours a day to when you’re doing work and to when you can “sign off.”