Being freelance is hard, there's no sugar coating it.
Everything relies on what your hands make and what your brain creates. It's also the best job ever but believe me when I say working alone on your own business can send you into a downward spiral, if you're not careful. And I wasn't.
October 2022 was the hardest month of my life, I was switching medication, the weather was rapidly turning from the gorgeous summer days, of August and September, to the gloomy dark days of the winters that were all too used to. This along with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and weird physical symptoms sent me into a really uncomfortable place and everything just became so difficult.
So, for anyone feeling the pressures of working for yourself I wanted to write about some of the things that helped me, in the hope that they might help you too!
1.) Surround yourself with support.
The people in your life that you love will be your rock, I know mine were. It was great to be able to do things to take my mind off of what I was worrying about and just do nice things. Take some time out, stay with friends and family and just do something different from your everyday. I took a week off and moved home to just be surrounded by my family and cuddle my dog and it was the best thing for me.
2.) Immersive Activities.
I found that things like swimming, yoga and reading were really helpful for me. These things in particular because I found that when I was doing them I couldn't focus on the things that were worrying me and all of my brain power would go into the task at hand. Swimming is my absolute favourite and really relaxes me if I'm having a particularly stressful time.
If you're looking for something creative to keep your mind busy, I find that doing something completely opposite to my illustration work is so good. I use clay and making messy things with my hands as my way to zone out creatively! I love the feeling of actually making something tangible, firing it and being able to use it for my morning coffee, to plant a pot plant or as a vessel for my paints.
There's nothing like going to back to basics and physically making something with your hands.
3.) Your Workspace.
If you work for yourself and spend all of your time in one room it's got to be somewhere you love, filled with things that inspire you! For me it's having lots of lovely artwork on the walls, a comfy chair, nice cosy lighting for when the winter and evenings come and lots of natural light for the daytime!
At the start of 2023 I started renting my first, out of home, studio. It's made such a difference to my mental health and I feel like I actually go to work now rather than just walking to the next room! For me it had kind of got to a point where I needed to do something to help my brain, and after trying pretty much everything else, changing how I worked was the last hurrah.
I love my little haven and if I can, will hopefully be here for a while!
4.) Move ya body!
Now, don't get me wrong, I know it's so easy to be like "ohhhh exercise is so good for your brain" because when people said that to me it was closely followed with an eye roll on my behalf. BUT it has helped me so so much. I started weight training in June of this year and every time I leave the gym I feel so much more positive, and if I've had a hard day or work, difficult clients or just generally feel a bit low, I know it will help me feel better!