Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., and they affect tens of millions of adults. Approximately 72 percent of individuals polled claim daily stress and anxiety interferes with their lives in some capacity — 56 percent while working. Speaking of which, depression is among the top three personal employee problems in the workplace, following family crises and general stress. Deadlines, coworkers, management, and dealing with random problems that arise are among the top issues for distress for someone with a mental health disorder. But with the gig economy (aka freelance or contract employment) projected to double in the next four years, working independently could be just what the proverbial doctor ordered — here’s why.
Benefits Of Working In The Gig Economy
Between the flexibility, being your own boss, and choosing your own daily structure and environment, the gig world can greatly reduce excessive stress and anxiety while elevating mood. Many experts also point out that many gigs are offered by small companies, so contractors are more apt to be treated better and receive personal attention, which is not always the case in a traditional work environment.
While there are an abundance of online resources to help you find work, experts agree that going in the direction of something you find fulfilling is key. It’s important that your work matches your interest level, aptitude, and personality without exceeding expertise or comfort level. Studies suggest that embarking on a creative endeavor can improve mental wellness, reduce stress, decrease depression, improve outlook, boost the immune system, and increase self-esteem and feelings of personal achievement.
Before anything else, develop your brand. Establish a name and logo that clients can associate with your work and personality. Put some thought into coming up with a catchy business name, but don’t be afraid to rely on a business name generator tool to help you out. Double check that your name isn’t already tied to a website domain so you can have exclusivity.
Setting Up A Relaxing Home Office
While a traditional office environment has its own share of stressors, it’s crucial that you set up a relaxing home office to prevent anxiety and depression within your own four walls. Some ways to go about this include clearing the space of all clutter, painting the walls in a calming shade of pale green or cool blue, letting fresh air in through the windows, installing a ceiling fan to keep air movement in the room, and purifying the space with toxin-busting plants such as aloe vera and English ivy. Lighting is also key — while you want ample light to be able to conduct your work properly, harsh fluorescents can be a mood killer. Consider placing a dimmer switch on lamps and overhead fixtures so you can control the ambiance. Don’t forget to set regular office hours and breaks so that your gig life isn’t taking over your real one.
While there are many benefits to taking control of your career with gig work when challenged with a mental health disorder, there’s a careful balance that must be considered in order to prevent side effects from becoming worse. For example, gig work can promote social isolation if one is not careful. To prevent this from occurring, connect with colleagues, clients, and like-minded individuals through social channels. Attend events, conferences, and meetups with others in your line of work. Inactivity can also be an issue, so schedule slots during the week to maintain — or begin — an exercise regimen, but make sure to get up throughout the day to stretch your legs or conduct some body weight strength-training exercises in between projects. Lastly, the gig economy doesn’t have the same financial security as a salaried job, so create an emergency fund in case of a worst-case scenario while perpetually casting your net to find more work.
Author Bio: Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. He’s in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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