Work takes up a lot of our time usually, and when that time is spent alone, working at home or in isolation as a self-employed person it can take a toll on our mental health.

Choosing to work from home can be the perfect solution to addressing your work/life balance issues, but there are some interesting stats out there;

‘While most home workers in our survey clearly enjoy working from home, using words like “free”, “in control” and “calm” to describe how it makes them feel, it also revealed some negative feelings. Around 25% used words like “isolated”, “remote” and “lonely”.’ Personnel Today

One quarter of self-employed and home workers feeling lonely is a significant number. With loneliness being one of the largest factors identified in cases of depression and even physical ill health, how can you protect your mental health as a self-employed person and make your work arrangements, work better?

Lunchtime meet-ups
The office break room is the place to go to get away from your screen, to connect with other people, catch up with weekend gossip and just be in the company of others. It’s vital to support your physical health to take regular breaks from your desk and screen, but your mental health will benefit by being around others too. If you don’t work in an office, you could arrange to meet friends at lunch, go to a coffee shop or gym, or take some time out to call a family member or friend for a catch up.

Find a co-working event
Your local co-working offices, if you’re lucky enough to have one, may offer co-working events for the self-employed, sole traders and homeworkers to come together for a day and work alongside other like-minded people. Getting together for just one day a month can have benefits for your business as well as your mental health, as part of your networking efforts.
Go to regular networking events

Sticking with the theme of networking… You don’t have to sign up to expensive and highly committed networking groups to get the benefit of regular networking events. There are groups out there like Business Buzz that welcome businesses on a more casual basis, with payment on the door and a social vibe. This could be a good way to start meeting others and share experiences.

Plan your time and set boundaries
This may seem an obvious one, but planning your time out is just as important as planning your time in the home office. Many self-employed people working from home find that leaving work at the end of the day is difficult. You might find that the office door is just too close, or maybe because you are a sole trader you feel you need to be receptive and reactive to work needs as often as possible. One good tip is to dress for work, even when at home and change into casual clothing when you’re not meant to be working. Your mental health will benefit from clear boundaries of what is work, and what is not.

Stop feeling guilty
You are working, even though you’re at home!

‘You might also experience increased anxiety or stress, since “working remotely creates a unique pressure to appear busy”, Jane Scudder, Personal Development and Career Transition Coach.’ Huffington Post

Jane Scudder talks about the unique feeling of guilt and anxiety that comes along with being self-employed and working from home. People feel the need to prove their worth, especially if they have decided to strike out on their own in response to an unsatisfactory situation in previous employment. Stop for a minute, pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you’re doing great!

Get a business coach or mentor
Taking time out to meet with a business coach or mentor that you trust will give you the opportunity to reflect on your successes and identify areas where development is required. Knowing where you stand in self-employment is important for maintaining your mental health and staying on top of challenges that brings. It is a popular saying that ‘knowledge is power’. If you are struggling with being self-employed and maintaining good mental health, find out more about it by reading books, blogs or social channels, or watching documentaries on the topic.

Perch is one of the co-working office spaces that offers regular co-working days, and you are most welcome to visit us in Bicester and find out how it works for our regular attendees. ‘Fledglings’ takes place regularly at Perch Coworking, Bicester and is designed to bring together people who usually work alone.

We would be happy to show you around and introduce you to some people who make self-employment less lonely. Find out more about Fledglings dates on our Facebook Events page.

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