Mental Health Tips for Contractors

As we approach the end of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, we’ve been reflecting on how work can be a contributing factor to mental health issues, especially for our freelance contractor community.

Most of us spend more time at work than with our families, so work-related stressors are a major cause of mental health issues, particularly when taking account of the additional pressures experienced in running your own business / working as a freelancer. A recent report by Business in the Community found that 61% of those who have experienced mental health issues, regarded work as a major causation factor.

For those working on a contract basis, the pressures of contract work can be considerable. The stress of always having to remain at the top of your game, the regular change of work environments/personalities/cultures, client’s relying on you to deliver to critical project specific deadlines, spending time away from home, staying on top of new tech, never knowing how long you will be on-the-bench between assignments etc.

 

In partnership with the Samaritans, Nixon Williams have created a helpful list of tips, focussing on what contractors can do to improve their well-being.

  1. Instead of emailing another person in your office, get up and talk to them or schedule a meeting. If that proves difficult because colleagues are in a different location, try a phone call, Skype or FaceTime meeting instead to boost your social interaction.
  2. Make sure you have a proper lunchtime, take breaks regularly and have a routine for stopping work at the end of the day. It’s easy to let these things slide when you’re trying to impress at work but it’s important to try and maintain a good work-life balance.
  3. Don’t say yes straight away to new work. Take some time to think it through and figure out if you can realistically fit it in to your current work and life schedule.
  4. If your contract means you’re working at the clients’ office, and you find that you’re spending a little longer than you should be at your desk, make sure you leave on time at least two nights a week by arranging to meet a friend – or if you have children, by taking the kids to a class. Put it in your work diary so you stick to it.
  5. If you’re working in an office environment, remember that your inbox will always be full. So, don’t try and clear everything in a day. And when possible, don’t answer emails as soon as they pop up.
  6. Keep track of your strengths and accomplishments. Set up a folder where you save positive emails from employers, colleagues and clients.
  7. Avoid constantly checking your emails. Turn off alerts and check them every few hours so you can get on with your work. Email is not an objective or an outcome!

 

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