Mental Health & Freelance. Cure or catalyst?

Mental Health & Freelance

In 2013 my full time job was taking a serious toll on my mental health. I had increased anxiety, sleepless nights and found myself unable to ‘switch off’.

It took 6 months of back and forth to build the courage to quit. I felt I needed to mentally check out a little, and headed into the freelance world to see how that would feel.

Over the past 5 years there has been a clear rise against the archaic work structure and with it a rise in personal well-being.

With that it seems obvious that freelancing is a very attractive option right now.

In fact there are an estimated 4.6 million freelancers in the UK today.

Many people opt to freelance for better mental health as it’s seen as a sign of ‘freedom’. However as a freelancer of nearly 4 years it’s important to understand that it’s not always #worklife Instagram pics from cute East London coffee shops.

Freelance can sometimes be even more debilitating for ones mental health.  

If you’re thinking of heading into the freelance world to protect your mental health, have a quick read below and consider these points first:

Set boundaries

It can be very common to over work as a freelancer – whether it’s the amount of hours in the day or the amount you work in the year.

Set yourself a limit. If you’re working at home make sure you take regular breaks, get some fresh air and eat lunch at the appropriate lunch time.


As a freelancer no two months are the same.

But when you have a week off, the temptation to lie in bed all day can be very high, especially if you are susceptible to depression.

Make sure you still get up early, shower, have breakfast and make the most of the days however that may be. Even if it just means going for a long walk at 9.30am.


This can be a huge thing for freelancers and really triggers mental health worries.

If you’re a full-time remote worker consider joining a co-working space that helps motivate and keep you focused such as WeWork or Soho House. I also suggest joining freelance communities or meetups like The Freelance Circle.

Money worries

The financial instability of freelance can leave many biting their nails.  Before you head into the freelance world make sure you have enough side pennies to get you through perhaps the first month when you’re finding your feet and establishing new contacts.  

Freelance has been one of the best choices for me; at exactly the time I needed it. And if you’re considering heading towards freelance, I whole-heartedly welcome it.

Just be sure it’s the right solution for you, and not a quick escape tactic from a bad job or unhappy feelings.

Make sure you’re doing it because it suits your next career move and lifestyle, and not to simply try and solve your problem.

Otherwise, those feelings will inevitably follow you.

By Casey Bird, freelance senior copywriter & founder of The Freelance Circle. Follow her @caseyjbird