During the pandemic, many of us have felt lonely or isolated at some point. However, if you are self-employed or freelance, it may not have just been during the past year that you have felt this way. In fact, in reality many self-employed individuals have been feeling lonely whilst working before, with it getting much worse in recent months. While the summer holidays may have provided some temporary relief from the loneliness of working alone (especially for those with children), the return to school will leave many with a silence that might be temporarily appreciated, but can quickly become a heavy weight.
A survey* of 1000 UK freelancers, carried out by Epson, concluded that their choice to work alone lead to 48% of them admitting to feeling lonely and 46% said it was isolating. These numbers are thought to be much larger now as we slowly begin to come out of lockdown.
We have put together some tips below to help you combat loneliness as a self-employed individual.
Take regular breaks
When you are running your own business, time is money. However, to avoid stress and ultimately, burn out, it is really important that you schedule in regular breaks throughout the day. Whether you choose to take 10 minutes between each client or project, or bigger, less frequent, chunks of time is up to you.
If you are using a computer, you should be taking short breaks every 20 minutes to rest your eyes. Find out more here.
Keeping connected with others through messages, phone calls or social media will really help you to feel more socialised. Keep in touch with friends, family or other groomers. Even posting photos and updates of what you’re working on (as long as you have permission from your clients) onto your social media profiles will give you the feeling of connecting and communicating with others.
Discuss your work with someone
If you have been used to working as part of a team, you may be missing the workplace chats about what work you currently have on, or even conversations unrelated to work. The best way to replicate this is to talk to someone at home (a partner, family member or friend) about the day you’ve had and also ask them about theirs. If anything significant has happened, or if you need advice on something, use them as you would a colleague.
Have a healthy lifestyle
Having a healthy diet and exercising is something that is mentioned a lot when thinking about mental health and wellbeing. It may sound a bit cliche now, but it is really important to stick to a healthy, balanced diet as well as exercising regularly. Take healthy food and drinks with you to work, and try to pop out of the workplace on your lunch break for a quick stroll. It’ll do wonders for resetting your focus after a busy few hours.
Working as a team of one can be really stressful at times. If you’re having a bad day at work due to a high workload, unexpected problems or clients not showing up for their appointments, it can be hard to keep yourself focussed without other teammates there to support you. One way to try and combat this feeling is to be as organised as possible. Keeping on top of your diary, sending out invoices, any marketing efforts and anything else that’s included in the daily running of your business will all help to keep you from feeling alone and isolated.
Ask for help
More and more people are now understanding what it is like to feel lonely whilst working alone. If you are struggling with loneliness, it is important to reach out to someone you trust and let them know how you’re feeling. They may be able to help you, even if it’s a quick message or phone call during the day to keep you feeling in touch with others.
*Survey carried out in 2018.