Five tips for freelancers with anxiety

I’m self-employed, and I have anxiety. Here’s what you can learn from that!

Two years ago, around World Mental Health Day, I realized I might actually need professional help. Some months later, I was sitting in a room with two psychiatrists trying to figure out what to do with what they had just told me.

At that time, I had already been self-employed for a while, working with private photography clients, teaching photography, and I had just organized an Instagram workshop for local small business owners. But then I broke.

They diagnosed me with avoidant personality disorder and generalized anxiety disorder and said I also scored high for OCD.

This didn’t come up as a surprise. What made me seek help was a panic attack I got when, after a stressful week, a client called me on the phone. But looking back, I had months in 2016 when I couldn’t even leave the flat to go to a supermarket.

Being a freelancer can be pretty stressful, even if your mental health is exceptional. Not knowing who your next client is, dealing with ups and downs in your income, having too much work for a couple of weeks, and then hardly enough for a couple of months… It gives you great flexibility - and that’s why I like it. But if you have an anxiety disorder, it can get very challenging very fast.

And no, being a freelancer didn’t cause my anxiety disorder. But at that point, it required a whole set of coping mechanisms to go around it.

So here’s my list of five tips for freelancers with anxiety. They are techniques that work for me, so they don’t have to work for you, but I hope they can push you in the right direction. It boils down to setting your boundaries and then creating systems around them.

You can also watch this video on IGTV.

Do you have any coping techniques you'd like to share? Hit me up on Twitter!

Jan Arsenovic

Jan Arsenovic

I'm Jan and I'm a freelance creative based in the Netherlands. In my past life, I worked in broadcasting and got up at 4 am.
Rotterdam, NL