Mental health is something we all need to get comfortable talking about. We all have it, all the time, just at some points our mental health is not quite as we’d like.
Add to this being freelance, often working alone, and responsible for every aspect of your business. Mental health can sometimes suffer.
So I asked the fabulous ladies in the Blue Stockings Society to offer their advice for overcoming mental health problems when you’re freelance.
Here’s what they came up with:
1. Sit in a chair and for 5 min be really present feel the weight of yourself sitting in the chair. This helps to bring yourself into the present moment
2. Don’t ever compromise your values or ethics for someone else. That’s a one-way ticket to mental torture
3. I find exercise vital
4. Be kind to your mind, be kind to your body and be kind to others. Surround yourself with people that lift you up and don't tolerate the behaviour of those that try and bring you down
5. Take a break when you need one instead of battling on and believing everything will collapse if you dare to take a day off
6. Remember it is ok to say No!
7. Sometimes it’s necessary to walk away from relationships that are painful.
8. There's a beginning, a middle and an end to everything. This too shall pass xx
9. It's ok to be not ok sometimes.
10. Go for a walk amongst the trees. Smile at and pat a cat (unless you are allergic, in which case, just smile at the cat). Take your Evening Primrose Oil. Nod at that mansplainer and reply 'Okay, sure' in a really trite, sarcastic and flippant way.
11. Ask for help x
12. Be kind to yourselves x
13. Having being diagnosed with severe generalised anxiety disorder and depression this year, I have found that my little go-to list has helped with my recovery. Hope these tips help someone
14. Stop comparing your life to others
15. Drink more water than you think
17. Rescue a dog (or a cat)
18. Eating fresh vegetables, getting optimal nutrition, some form of aerobic exercise (can be walking) & a balanced gut microbiome are all essential for a healthy brain. Also, specific mindfulness awareness practice can rewire old outdated pathways
19. STOP the CCJ: criticism, comparing or judgement of yourself or anyone else
20. Love yourself!
21. A daily shot of home-brewed kombucha and kefir both have done wonders for me and retraining my mind not to let thoughts run away with me - now I let them come then I let them go more consciously so in turn, they deliver less shame/fear/doubt. I fall less under their spell so to speak. I believe in what I am doing and I let that belief keep me moving in an onwards trajectory. We're all a work in progress and it's the journey ...what's the use in the destination if we can't find stillness and contentment in the moment x
22. Learn a new hobby, not only do you get to enjoy the process but build self-esteem in your accomplishments
23. Dance! Its so easy to forget how this makes us feel, it's arguably one of the quickest and most enjoyable ways to get out of our heads and looping thoughts and back into our body and the present moment. It is literally medicine for our whole being. It releases tension in mind and body and increases the production of our feel-good hormones. Putting on a song we love and dancing, however the music takes us. A fresh and uplifted feeling in a few short mins. And whether Jess Glynn gets you a boogying or not, the sentiment is a great reminder, particularly for us women juggling so much x
24. Know that this too shall pass. You're more than just your feelings, observe them and remember, it won't last forever xx
25. Having spent all day writing about this, the consensus is that getting outdoors every day is good for the soul
26. Think of 3 things you are grateful for within the last 2 hours! Just the thinking, even if you can't think of anything (which is unlikely, you're breathing aren't you?) Will generate some feel-good chemicals. X
27. Immense self-kindness and orgasmic meditation practice x
28. Sing! Well what would you expect me to say?!
29. Talk it out, don't bottle things up
30. Refill your jar. I had a mental health/kitchen revelation a little while ago. We ran out of pasta. I'd intended to cook pasta and had all the other ingredients ready to go, which were difficult to turn into something else. The jar was just empty, and I remember simply staring at it stupidly (I'd been having one of those days) and realising how great it would be to JUST STOP when I was empty, rather than push through, carry on, try harder. There simply wasn't any other option, so why do I live my life like there's an endless energy resource in me?
There isn't - we all need rest and recuperation: it's not a Treat, it's basic functional self-care. Know when you're getting low, don't wait till you're empty. Don't try harder. Refill your pasta.
31. Allow yourself to admit things can be difficult, that is not your fault, but never call them impossible. Always let your friends and family pull you out even when you feel they don’t understand everything you are going through. They can understand a lot if you let them.
32. Dog walk!
33. My suggestion is this to remind ourselves of at least one thing that we love / or even like about ourselves. Here is a challenge for you, find the closest person to you now, or if like me you are on your own, wait until you come into contact with another person today/tomorrow and give them a hug and/or pay them a compliment ( if it's online ) or tell them something heartfelt about yourself. Then tell yourself something good about yourself too. If you find this hard to do, or you are not sure what it is that you "love" about yourself then you need to do this even more! Go on, I dare you, see what happens! Sending virtual hugs and love out today x
34. Run...just get out and put one foot in front of the other no matter the speed or distance. It's fail-safe.
35. When something is stressing you out, think 'will it matter in a year's time'?
36. Tomorrow does not have to be the same
37. "I never realised I was a bully until I heard the way I talk to myself". If you've beaten yourself up for years and it hasn't got you anywhere, then why not try being nice to yourself instead.
38. Get off social media! Ironic, I know. But if I'm having a tough day, I will just feel worse and worse if I stare at FB. Put down your phone, go for a walk, cook a meal, do some art, play with your child and or pets, go to the gym, have a nap etc. Do anything but sit and look at how everyone else is living their lives. Go and do the living!
39. Spend more time with friends and spend more time outdoors. Or spend more time outdoors with friends
40. Small things can make a big difference. Things I've found useful are: Getting up and going to bed at the same time, reducing sugar intake, choosing 2-3 simple things to achieve each day (ie get dressed, leave the house), doing what's best for you and saying 'no' to things.
41. Be kind to yourself!
Give yourself a break.
You're doing better than you think.
42. Be as honest as possible with people about your mental health status. And remember it's okay to say you're 'unwell' when your mental health isn't on your side. It is an illness of sorts, Just because your leg isn't broken doesn't mean you're not allowed to be treated similarly.
43. Spend time with the trees and the plants - they soothe the soul.
45. Be kind to yourself always!
Remember that it will pass
Talk to someone or write it down, let it out in some way and don't bottle it up!
46. You don't have to conform
47. Hug someone!
48. Learn to say no as well as yes and be kind to yourself. Let yourself off and get hugs whenever possible!
49. All of the above! Do what feeds your soul!
50. Be kind to yourself- you are probably your worst critic!
51. Stop trying to control everything. Control is just an illusion. All we truly have at any point in time is the present.
52. Stop being so hard on yourself. You'll never achieve everything. Most things really aren't that important anyway.
53. Self-love and self-respect are key. Take the time out to be kind to yourself. Run a bath, go outside and look at the clouds or read a good book. Just taking yourself away and mixing your daily routine will help.
Also one of the big ones is talking to a friend or counsellor. Also being the friend who listens without passing judgement or advice. I find that helping someone else helps me to heal as I'm giving back and also random acts of kindness are great. So help someone (who needs help) cross the road or carry shopping. Give back to nature by planting something or picking up littler.
54. Acknowledge that sometimes everyone needs help. Whether that is a pill from the doctor, a talking therapy, gardening or herbal medicine taking the step to ask for help is incredibly brave and deserves to be celebrated.
55. Mental illness is like every other illness. Sometimes it comes and goes sometimes it lasts a bit longer but most people get it at some times. It's just that with measles you get spots people can see.
56. Stay grounded!!!
57. I think the only thing I can contribute that perhaps has not been said is....hate the jargon.. mindfulness and CBT! I practice a technique called STOP and THINK!
58. If you play a musical instrument, play your musical instrument.
59. And don't try to do everything. Cut back if you're overwhelmed. That includes cutting back on things you "should" be doing but that cause you additional stress.
60. Spend more time with the people who are good for your soul and less with negative and judgmental people, even if they are family/friends. And exercise. Especially when you really don’t feel like it.
61. Focus on your breath
62. If you're feeling overwhelmed and as if everything is out of control, try to do just one small thing that gives you a feeling of regaining some control. It can be as simple (and as challenging) as doing the washing up. Really helps.
64. Remove yourself from your environment every season if you can. Stay away for a new perspective before jumping back into your life. Even if it's just to visit friends or family for a day or two.
65. Sleep, eat well and exercise. Without these three in place, everything is an uphill struggle. Learning how and why my emotions are so affected by my monthly cycle has also been really helpful after reading Lisa Lister's Code Red.
66. I had to reschedule a big public event yesterday. I was not sleeping due to fear of catastrophic failure due to an impossible list of endless deadlines. I recognised I needed to stop the pressure! rethink and redesign the plan. Last night I slept well, today I am smiling and now I am drinking coffee in town. Relaxed and happy. It's ok to accept not everything we do is perfect.
67. Improve your gut health!
68. Know that you're not alone and that all emotions will pass. Speak to people around you as bottling up mental health is the worst thing anyone can do. Get help for it as the amount of people I know who are suffering yet don't know whats available to them. xx
69. Know that your not alone and that all emotions will pass. Speak to people around you as bottling up mental health is the worst thing anyone can do. Get help for it as the amount of people I know who are suffering yet don't know whats available to them. xx
70. I have had to remind myself of one of my often quoted tips the last couple of very trying days: 'The Oxygen Mask Theory" - Put yours on first!
71. Your thoughts are as just as much a part of you as everything else... all is precious... the whole of you is precious...
And I'm currently sitting writing this in my dressing gown at 12.18 (lunchtime!), feeling run down and full of cold, so you know what I took the day off, and yes I'm writing this, but I've also just watched The Apprentice, am off to have some acupuncture in a bit and then an afternoon of chocolate and Pretty Woman (I know, bad for feminism - but so good for my brain). I have a massive pile of to do's but they can wait.
After having had cancer, I know how important it is to rest when you need to. So my advice, listen to your body, it's your best friend and will look after you if you look after it.
Hope these tips help you and if you'd like to join a growing community of female entrepreneurs, check out the Blue Stockings Society.
Thanks to Ursula Kelly for the photography