How to Deal with the Anxiety of Freelancing

I didn’t expect all the freelancing anxiety that has cropped up in the last few weeks. Sure, I struggle with anxiety, but I had assumed that after I started pursuing my dream—to get paid to write—that the worrying would disappear.

Yet it’s only gotten worse, in many ways.

Between juggling a part-time job, hustling to find new clients, working hard to get the work I submit to current clients spot-on, it’s a struggle. Pursuing a dream is hard work. Freelancing is hard work.

It feels like my brain is overloaded most of the time. Like if I try to fit in even a bit more information into my head, the whole thing will spontaneously combust.

So what is a freelancer to do?

Realize You Are Normal

This is the most important step. We have to keep telling ourselves this is normal. We are putting ourselves out there in a new way, being extremely vulnerable to the world by exposing our deepest desires. Of course that comes with anxiety.

It feels like I’m shouting from the rooftops, “I want to write!” and the whole world just stares back.

If freelancing is new for you as well, it’s to be expected that there is not only a steep learning curve in the beginning, but also a high emotional toll. Being vulnerable is risky, and that risk stays with you throughout the day. It bleeds into other parts of life.

It’s OK to feel raw and anxious. That’s normal.

Take Quiet Time

For the second most important part, you have to take time to reflect. That means without a television on in the background, without a husband or kids trying to annoy you, and without that tablet game flashing in front of you.

Just go to the bedroom, and lie down. Even for 5 minutes. Any time you can steal away from your day to just be.

This has saved me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I come out and feel like I can think a little more clearly. Or try Headspace, the mindfulness app. I have mixed feelings about mindfulness, but it does generally help to calm my mind.

Make a List

I’m far from perfect at making lists. When I get overwhelmed, I cram my list with all the things that I convince myself need to happen by tomorrow. Instead of helping me, my list stresses me out.

So be better than me and try to stick to a realistic list. Write down 3 things you would like to get done today, but try not to let guilt creep in if your kid gets sick and you only finish one of the three. Life calls—and let’s be honest, that sick kid is real life.

Remember that writing is not your whole life.

Give Yourself a Day Off

This can be a challenge to make time for an entire day of no work if you balance freelancing with other jobs. But do it. Schedule it ahead of time. For me, this coming Friday is my day off. If I don’t schedule this in, it won’t happen, and all of a sudden it’s a month later and I have a panic attack because I haven’t been letting myself escape from the freelancing work.

Freelancing is hard because it’s often done from your own home. This makes time away from it that much more important.

Are you a freelancer or other creative type and feel anxious after launching your business? Let me know how you deal in the comments below!

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