Freelancing, whether as a blogger, artist, or virtual assistant (among a lot of other occupations), has its perks.
Aside from the occasional freebies from sponsors and events, in a way, freelancers also get a sense of emotional and psychological balance as they are able to completely take control of their workday by not having to follow a structured work schedule—five days a week, 8–12 hours a day.
But despite these upsides, freelancing also has its hitches. For one, keeping the momentum and the discipline to finish all the work lined up without the sense of structure of an 8-hour desk job can get grueling.
Considering all the possible distractions, keeping the focus just gets too difficult at times. And in wanting to keep distractions away, freelancers also tend to isolate themselves, resulting in a form of self-induced loneliness.
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Working on your own to concentrate is one thing, but being lonely from all the self-inflicted isolation is another. So, to help you focus on the sunnier side of freelancing, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Think and get out of the box
The sense of loneliness related to freelancing can be mostly attributed to the isolation-inflicting technology—the internet. It is very easy to feel lonely when you’re focused on finishing your work, as you’re also keeping your attention fixated on your computer monitor.
Several studies over the years have also confirmed this negative consequence of internet use as being mentally depressing and socially detaching. So, in order to keep things lighter, try to get out of the box by taking occasional, quick walks outside of the house or your workplace.
Get out, say hi to friends, or greet your favorite barista over a nice cup of joe. Taking a breather, regardless of one’s occupation, is a necessity to stay sane, more so when you are working with a technology that has the tendency to withdraw you from the rest of the world.
Also, try to think out of the box by allowing yourself to ponder and meditate on anything else beyond your freelance work from time to time.
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While your eyes need a break from being fixated on your computer monitor, your brain also needs a time-out from all the freelance-related thinking you’ve probably been doing for hours at a stretch. Not only will this help you reconnect with the rest of the world, this will also help keep you in a healthy social and mental state.
2. Switch up the workspace
Apart from acknowledging that loneliness is mostly a matter of the mind, you also need to consider how your environment is adding to that sense of solitude. For one, you can try to break the monotony or flatness of your surrounding by rearranging your desk items.
If you love clutter, continue to embrace it but move the objects around, or introduce new items for you to fidget with or stare at when your eyes need a break.
You can also bring in a new wall color, or a set of new curtains or blinds. And if you’re into totally switching things up, you can try working in a café, pub, or a shared workspace.
Aside from giving yourself a completely fresh, new space to work in, you also get to be in the company of other people, which is ultimately beneficial for your mental and social wellbeing.
While enjoying the ambiance of your new workstation, why not make new friends for more cheer?
3. Maintain close, long-term relationships
As cheesy as this sounds, this actually has the biggest impact in your objective to fight loneliness while freelancing. For a lot of introverts, freelancing works since they are able to evade the forced socialization they often have to endure in office settings.
However, these socializations, no matter how awkward, actually help keep your sanity intact by keeping you in touch with the world through discourse and personal interactions.
Recent psychological research actually found that social detachment is not only likely to make you sad, but it can also in fact kill you. Studies show that there is a considerable connection between a person’s sense of loneliness and mortality risk.
The research also suggests that going out and engaging in occasional small talk may help keep people from socially isolating themselves, although engaging in these simple and shallow socializations may not necessarily resolve a deeper and more serious loneliness issue.
The key to maintaining a happy disposition, according to the experts, is maintaining a diverse set of social relations and meaningful relationships.
This can only be achieved if you exercise personal interactions on a regular basis, which will make it a little less challenging to maintain those connections for the long term.
There are plenty of reasons freelancing should make you happy. All the flexibility and control that it offers should be enough to at least make you feel on top of your game every time.
However, considering the solitary nature of the technology that makes freelancing possible, it is sometimes easier to fall into the traps of self-inflicted isolation—and be lonely.
The key is to stay in control, not only of your schedule as a freelancer, but most importantly of your mental and emotional wellbeing as well. Healthy alone time is one thing—feeling detached and disconnected from the world is another.
In freelancing, you make your own schedule. You might as well create your own happiness too amidst all the solitude induced by the world wide web.
Have you had this problem as a freelancer? Please share in the comments!
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