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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Scherle

Supporting Your Mental Health When You Are Self-Employed

From our November Newsletter

By Stephanie Scherle



Just yesterday, Joe Biden proclaimed November as Entrepreneurship Month, celebrating "doers, dreamers, and job creators whose vision and grit fuel [the] economy". In the UK, there are currently 4.29 million self-employed individuals. Self-employment in the UK has grown steadily, from a low of just 3.2 million in December 2000, to a peak of over five million at the start of 2020, with numbers decreasing during the pandemic.

Four in five of those who are self-employed in the UK are happy with their way of working, 91% take a sense of pride in the work they do and 83% believe that the benefits of self-employment outweigh the risks. There are, however, some downsides to working for/by oneself that need to be addressed.



What Are The Key Challenges Faced By Those in Self-Employment?


Self-employed individuals have a number of challenges impacting their mental health. Some key concerns expressed by self-employed people are finding work, the irregularity of income, blurred boundaries between work and home life, not having access to statutory employment benefits, working long hours or on tight deadlines and receiving late payments. Additionally, managing finances, feeling lonely and isolated, experiencing project delays and cancellations, admin tasks, lack of support and advice, dealing with clients and not receiving regular feedback are some of the issues faced by those on self-employment.



How To Address Challenges


Get To Know Yourself

When looking after your mental health as a self-employed individual, it is important that you understand yourself, your needs, preferences and limits well. Here are some thought prompts:

  • Figure out which activities give you energy and which drain you.

  • Understand what hours of the day you are most productive.

  • Consider your financial goals.

  • Think of client target groups you would enjoy working with.

  • Know how much time you need to recharge.

  • Find out whether you prefer a flexible approach of mixing work and home life during the day or whether you want clear boundaries between your job and your private time.

Adjust your working habits according to what best suits you - having this flexibility is one of the top perks of being self-employed!

Engage in Work-Related Training

Expanding your skill sets can do wonders not only for your confidence but also has the possibility of increasing your earning potential and broadening your offering. Trainings you attend could be related both to your subject matter and to mental health related topics.

Plan Your Tasks

Sometimes, the to-do lists of those in self-employment can feel extremely overwhelming. Set time aside to sort your tasks according to priorities. Consider how urgent and important your tasks are. Find a to-do list system that works for you.

Set Realistic Timelines For Your Work

Sometimes, it can be tempting to promise clients certain deadlines just to later realise these are hard to achieve and contribute to stress, procrastination and feelings of overwhelm. When you set your timelines, allow for any research and learning, feedback and revisions, and a little leeway for any unexpected holds-up such as illness, injury or other life events where possible.

Don't Strive For Perfection At The Expense of Deadlines

In self-employment in particular, it is extremely important to take pride in the work you do. This can sometimes lead to obsessing over small details in the work, which takes a lot of time and energy. Make sure to try and find the right tradeoff between good quality and timely delivery.

Record Your Previous Successes

Imposter syndrome is real and can hit those in self-employment hard. In moments of self-doubt, it is important to remember your past successes, talents and passion for what you are doing. Take time in happy moments to reflect on such successes so you can look back on them when things feel difficult.

Prepare Financially

Have a saving plan for times where projects are harder to find. This can help you worry less about finances and increase your financial wellbeing.

Have A Coach Or Mentor

Sometimes, it can be beneficial to have someone to support you in reflecting on your self-employment journey, challenges and successes. It can be helpful to work with a coach that has experience in supporting those in self-employment or a mentor that is also self-employed or works in a similar area of expertise.

Connect With Others

Self-employment can feel isolating sometimes. It is important that you don't forget to socialise with others - be it friends and family, old colleagues, those in the same industry or other self-employed individuals. In some areas, there are dedicated groups and organisations for self-employed people, so have a lookout for those.


You are self-employed and would like some coaching on self-employment? You would like to learn more about your strengths, things you enjoy and find draining to improve your day-to-day work? Contact us at info@resilientworkforce.co.uk.



References


A Proclamation on National Entrepreneurship Month, 2022. (October 31, 2022). The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/10/31/a-proclamation-on-national-entrepreneurship-month-2022/.


Clark, D. (2022, November). Number of Self-Employed Workers in the United Kingdom from May 1992 to November 2022 (In Thousands). [Chart]. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/318234/united-kingdom-self-employed/.


Jenkings, K. (2017). To Be or Not to Be a Freelancer: Job Satisfaction and Wellbeing. IPSE. https://www.ipse.co.uk/resource/job-satisfaction-and-wellbeing.html.


Nunez, V. (2021, December 21). Don’t Feed the Hustle—Here Are 4 Ways To Protect Your Mental Health When You Work for Yourself. Well + Good. https://www.wellandgood.com/mental-health-tips-self-employed/.


Yordanova, I. (n.d.). How to Support Your Mental Health When You Are Self-Employed. Mental Health at Work. https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/blog/how-to-support-your-mental-health-when-you-are-self-employed/.

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