Empowering the Freelance Economy

Why freelancers must set aside “worry time”

Your worries need respect and time so that you can tackle them proactively/ Photo by lil artsy via Pexels
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If more of us set aside time to worry, we are more likely to get some perspective on what’s eating us and actually do something about it. Here are some things to consider when you set aside your “worry time”

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were most of your worries. By addressing our worries with the respect and time they deserve we are more likely to address and solve them. This means setting aside focused “worry time” – yes, seriously.

“As counterproductive as it might sound, set time aside to worry, says Paul Young, co-owner of Spiffy, the Happiness Shop.

“Set aside half an hour, and put your concerns on paper. Getting your worries out of your head allows you to have a bit of perspective and review them with more of a rational head, instead of one fuelled by panic. When you see them all written down, it should help you to prioritise them and make some plans,” says Young.

Young understands that it’s tough to focus on your mental health when you’re struggling financially because a lack of security is one of the biggest mental health triggers. He suggests it’s best to face it head-on and acknowledge if you’re struggling and reach out to the support services on offer, like Citizens Advice Bureau.

Co-owners of happiness-inspired retailer Spiffy Shaun Potter (left) and Paul Young (right) say setting aside ‘worry time’ helps you get perspective and not become overwhelmed

For those of you that have work, family, friends and even pets that are overly demanding of your time, you need to start finding ways to “escape” even if that means taking a pad of paper to the loo, sneaking off to the greenhouse or garden shed or walking the dog and recording your worries and solutions on your mobile phone. The basic premise is you are being proactive and addressing your concerns rather than letting them fester.

The effectiveness of the worry list lies in its simplicity, according to Goalcast. “You can return to it anytime to reevaluate which of your fears are most debilitating and which are merely frustrating. Consult it regularly and downsize or cross things off as you complete tasks or as your priorities evolve. Eventually, you may find your list has been downsized to include only those things that contribute most to your anxiety.”

Sometimes our worries can be made worse if we wait for a solution to happen or presume the person connected to the worry will come forward before we do.

In the wise words of Winnie the Poo:

You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

Winnie the Pooh

Prioritise your worries

You should find when you address one worry you will find your other worries are not as amplified or compounded be they emotional, physical or financial.

Dr Jan-Sher Bhatti, a clinical psychologist at LionMinds UK, says given the cost-of-living crisis, with worries about keeping up with mortgages and heating homes, people’s emotional wellbeing will be tested, requiring them to tap into their resilience to weather the storm.

“I encourage my clients to consider what factors across their life might be within their control. Although people might not be able to change ‘The World’, we have opportunities and an ability to change our world and that of our loved ones,” says Bhatti.

Working conditions: are they part of the problem?

Even remote working is having an effect on our worries. “I have seen a surge in clients struggling with the cost of living crisis and the number of clients coming in with anxiety has shot up,” says Paula Gardner, founder of The Good Therapy Practice.

She says endless news stories about the crisis, combined with worrying conversations at work, are sending people into a “fight or flight mode of thinking, where a sense of fear is running sky-high.”

Additionally, she says, remote working has created an “always on” mode, which is increasing feelings of brain fog and attention problems.

“Many people have tangible worries about paying the bills which are increasing existing anxiety. Mental health isn’t just about what’s going on in your head but what’s happening in your wallet, too,” says Gardner.

Prevention: the best medicine to tackle worries?

Financial worries are monopolising the headlines these days, so preventing new financial worries is a wise step to take.

“Investment in prevention is almost twice as effective as solving the cure, ” says Andy Chambers, commercial Lead at Syndi Health.

Chambers says if people and small business owners are to survive this very difficult time, they need to “urgently understand their own mental health landscape and respond before the hidden cost of mental health puts a potentially catastrophic strain on their human and financial resources.”

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