Freelance and Anxiety

You Look a Little Pale Today, Nic.

It's not a topic I see written about all too often - but making the decision to be a freelancer is a tough one - a road filled with anxiety.

Like most freelancers, my ideal customer finds me through my website or on Facebook, contacts me, hires me - perhaps even pays me a nice chunk of cash. Sure, that can happen and does happen, but you have to take the right steps to get there - a lot of grinding, marketing, emailing, etc.

A more realistic scenario is that you're out there, pounding the pavement, getting the word out, taking jobs that don't pay great, so you can spread the word about your services and build connections. It's a daily struggle and it doesn't end. There's no point where you can sit back and relax and watch the money roll in.

And that can be a stressful thing. Thinking about where the next paycheck is coming from and how you're going to make the next mortgage payment can put more stress on a person than is healthy.

I've dealt with it firsthand, as probably you have.

Stressed out stock photo guy really nailed it.

Stressed out stock photo guy really nailed it.

Another huge stress factor is good 'ol imposter syndrome - that feeling that everyone is going to find out you don't really know what you're doing. Maybe all the success you've had is just a fluke - a streak of good luck. It doesn't just affect freelancers, it affects everyone - but as I head out daily to a new job with a new client, I can't help but feel someone is finally going to say to me - "You're charging me a lot of money and you don't have a clue what you're doing." 

Anxiety creeps into my life at strange times. When it manifests, I usually get a pain in the middle of my chest that feels like heartburn. That feeling like, "Am I having a heart attack" just adds to the stress and once stress grabs hold of you, you can get stuck in a loop that's hard to get out off.

I'm not an expert at dealing with stress. I'm not even really good at it. Earlier this year, I experienced in a manner that was worse than I ever have - there are a few small things I did to help with it:

1. Aware  (http://awaremeditationapp.com/) - I downloaded this app on my phone and began a free 21 day meditation course. Each daily course is about 10 minutes, but sometimes 10 minutes of mindful relaxation can make a big difference.

2. Thais - I supplemented my 10 minutes of meditation by listening to Thais - an opera by Jules Massanet. It's a 6 minute song - very peaceful, great for meditation. It's been performed by dozens of other artists so I just made a Spotify playlist with all the versions of Thais so that it just plays over and over with slight variations.

3. Walking the Dogs - Just getting out with the dogs for a while usually helped clear my head and calm me down if I was feeling too much anxiety.

What do you do when you're feeling the 'ol freelancer stress?