Freelancing can be quite an emotional roller coaster. When they’re up, they’re up, but when they’re down, they’re down. Studies have shown that freelancers can either be some of the happiest people in the workforce, or some of the most unwell workers around. Fortunately, there are ways freelancers can pick themselves up, even if things aren’t going so well.
According to recent research from Brighton University in the United Kingdom, freelancers are England’s happiest and most productive workers. On average, English freelancers work only 38 hours a week, and earn £43,000 per year, far more than the national average of £25,000 per year.
“For many, freelancing is emerging as the ideal lifestyle, especially in creative and digital industries where people can work from any location, including home, and which demand high levels of innovation,” said Brighton University’s Dr. Jonathan Sapsed.
However, polls in the U.S. from Gallup have shown that only 14% of self-employed persons report themselves as “thriving,” while 22% of the unemployed report that they’re thriving.
For decades, studies have shown that job satisfaction has a strong impact on both a person’s mental and physical health. According to a 2003 study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, job satisfaction was most strongly associated with mental and physical problems, primarily causing burnout, self-esteem issues, depression, and anxiety.
With national polls reporting that low-levels of job satisfaction amongst freelancers, it’s likely that they’re suffering mentally and physically, as well.
Things don’t have to be this way, though, as the Brighton University’s study indicates. If a freelancer isn’t quite thriving, there are steps they can take to help relieve their stress, and improve their physical condition.
Taking deep breaths has always been a great way to relieve stress, and it still is. Exhaling longer than inhaling cues the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which will then lower the body’s stress hormones, calming a person down.
Diet is important, too. Green leafy vegetables, yogurt, salmon, blueberries, pistachios, turkey, and oatmeal are all good things to snack on when stress is becoming too much. Oatmeal is a particularly healthy snack to have, because it contains high levels of tryptophan and soluble fiber. Studies have shown that tryptophan promotes serotonin production, the chemical that regulates feelings of happiness and well-being. Soluble fiber can help lower a person’s cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease, thus improving physical health.
It’s also a good idea to set boundaries. Many freelancers work irregular hours, often at home, which can blur the lines between work and house, allowing the stress of the work day to bleed over into other parts of a freelancer’s life. Finding ways to set boundaries, whether it’s by creating a designated work space or sticking to a more regular work schedule, can help freelancers keep their work stress at work.
Freelancing is a wonderful opportunity that can make a person incredibly happy and productive, or stressed out and unwell. When things aren’t going so well, it’s important to relieve stress, be it by taking deep breaths, having a healthy snack, or setting boundaries.