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How to Run Your Own Freelance Business With Anxiety

how to run a freelance business with anxiety

 

First of all, it sounds counter-intuitive, but owning a freelance business can be therapeutic for someone with anxiety.

Think about it…

Much anxiety can come from…

  • Having to report to people when you don’t need “managing.”
  • Un-sureness about your job, even if you’re a good worker, because you just never know.
  • Office politics and cliques and wondering about what’s being said behind closed doors.
  • Difficult people who just aren’t satisfied with anything.
  • Commuting, which may make you lose an hour of your day every work day!
  • Time pressures of deadlines and launches.
  • Emails. Emails. Emails. Communicating with computers.
  • Leaving children behind, as they cry with arms outstretched to you (ouchy!)
  • Gray cubicles deep inside a building with overhanging artificial lights.
  • Not seeing the light of day…

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Those are MAJOR anxiety triggers! Major triggers that all went away when I decided to start my own business. Ah, the freedom of that alone! It changes a person!

People have commented about the difference they see in my face even!

Hubster even says I’m quite a different person. And noticing things like that aren’t his strong suit. But even he noticed.

Now, you know in your mind what being location-free might look like.

But it’s an entirely different life shift when you actually experience it.

 

Ok, get real woman.

Being my own boss isn’t all glitter and polka dots all the time, but it’s mostly that same feeling you get inside the polka dotted party store.

It speaks of opportunity and togetherness and celebration and pretty things.

Sometimes a kid walks in and throws party favors all over the floor like confetti.

Yeah, that happens every day around here.

And sometimes someone walks in with a glum face and needs to return hundreds of dollars of party supplies for a celebration that was called off.

Or someone passes out from breathing the helium.

But there’s still glitter and polka dots everywhere.

Ok, moving on from that analogy.

 

So, being self-employed has filled me with gratitude for the way it plays out…

  • When you wake up and you can’t wait to get started.
  • When you get to work in the comfort of your leggings next to lit candles (a fire hazard at most jobs).
  • When you take as many breaks as you need to readjust your focus.
  • When you can tend to your medicinal herb garden on your lunch break.
  • When your babysitter can give your baby access to you for boo-boo kisses through the office door.
  • When you can take a personal day anytime you need to. Oh wait, I haven’t needed to since there’s nothing to escape from! Just one day when I developed an infection, nbd.
  • When you don’t have to go anywhere! Hallelujah, no more commute! No more facing blizzards and rush hour and endless endless driving.
  • When you can set your rates and your use of time on your terms.
  • When you can spend a week with your husband in a semi and still get your work done.
  • When you can work from a picnic table at a local park with a view of the river and changing trees.
  • When you can roll backward on your medicine ball for a good stretch without looking like a moron.
  • When the coffee and tea and cheese (and wine) are just a few rooms away. No more desperate afternoon searches through the drawers to find a completely unappetizing snack. Ha, I can drink on a workday if I wanna! I don’t, but I could.
  • When you can listen to the rain and thunderstorms through the screened-in door.
  • When you can check on your dog and kitties and caterpillar collection at regular intervals.
  • When you can keep a tighter ship around your house because you’re there. Even though I don’t clean during work hours (although it IS hard to ignore the laundry), I’m still able to keep it cleaner around here, because I’m here, which makes me a much less anxious person.
  • When you don’t have to leave the house during snowstorms, or a day or two after.

IMG_3681.JPGMonarch caterpillar

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IMG_2397.JPGMore time with these two


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This guy needs supervision


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Seriously…

Okay, okay…you get the point.

Not trying to gloat, just show my gratitude.

 

My purpose in listing all of that — and that was just the stuff off the top of my head — was to stir up some emotions and desires inside of you. If you long for that type of life, this is for you.

If you have a desire, and you see that it’s possible, and you see that someone else is doing it, you might just realize that you can have it for yourself.

And if you’re really serious about it, you’ll actually do something about it;)

So, you can see how these pieces of glitter could make a person less anxious, right? How it could lift that heaviness and melt that nervous energy.

Once you become a freelance writer, it doesn’t mean the anxiety will automatically fall away though. You still have to have use some proactive strategies to steer your mind. Because when that one kid walks in and destroys the glitter and polka dots, you need to know where the vacuum is.

 

These are my strategies, the practices I do Every.Single.Day to tame that beastly worrier inside my head.

 

Top 10 Strategies for Tackling Anxiety as a Freelance Writer

  1. Journal every morning: I journal every morning for at least 15 minutes, no matter what. I journal about what I want my day to be about, what I’m going to do today to make progress toward my goals, what’s holding me back, etc.Now, this might seem like an easy task to disregard, especially when you’re short on time, but actually journaling gives me more time. I feel like I have more time and space to create meaningful work after journaling because it makes me more intentional with my time rather than reactive to whatever happens to me.

    I also use journaling to turn around my entire vibe. If I’m feeling low or flat, I’ve learned how to use journaling to reverse it. I get to choose how I feel! I get to proactively change my mental state. This is one of the most momentous tools I’ve found for my anxiety. That’s why it’s number one!

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    If everything abou
    t your time management and day originated from your journaling, you would be far more productive and focused than you ever imagined.

  2. Take hourly breaks: I have a Fitbit Charge 2 that’s literally changing my life right now. It vibrates at me every hour to get up out of my desk. It also has a meditation function built right in. So, if I’m feeling particularly charged up, I can breathe for a few minutes to refocus.Everyone who suffers from anxiety knows how miraculous meditation and deep breathing are…if they actually do it. Breathing in and out with that little expanding circle is somehow really effective at calming that nervous energy. Well done, Fitbit.

    Breathing and mindfulness make a huge difference for managing anxiety, so try all the tools you can.

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  3. Exercise: I exercise 6 days a week consistently. Always. No exceptions. Some days, I can feel my runs or weight lifting squeezing the anxiety right out of my body. Other days, I know my body needs yoga and I feel noticeably rejuvenated afterward.Countless studies show the affect of exercise on mood. A quick Google search will lead you to plenty of material about exercise being a great mood stabilizer.

    You can even step the benefits up a notch by taking your workout outdoors. Even more studies point to the benefits of being in nature and sunlight. Combine exercise and nature to really turn your mood around.

    Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your day.

  4. Get out into nature: Okay, I mentioned this above, but I think it deserves it’s own mention. I make it a point to get out into nature every day. In winter, when it’s more difficult to get outside in WI, I use my sun lamp every day to charge myself with light.Nature has such a profound grounding effect. So much so that it’s becoming a “thing” to go forest bathing. Earthing re-calibrates your body. The sun pushes away the blues. There’s just something about being outside that makes us feel good and it just happens to melt away frenzied energy.

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    View from my lunch break
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  5. Be selective: Only take clients that you love. Only say “yes” to events that will truly make a positive difference in your life. Overwhelm is a problem with us anxious types, and this is a great way to tame it.We anxious types also find gratification in doing what we love, which translates into all kinds of mental health benefits. Writing about health and fitness, my bread and butter, all day gives me fewer things to be anxious about.

    This could be an entire different post (or book) but there’s something to be said about doing your life’s purpose work that heals that underlying anxiety that stems from knowing you’re not doing the work you were meant to be doing.

  6. Build in social time: Working alone every day is the bomb dot com when you’re a professional introvert like me. Answering customer calls is just about the last thing on earth I’d want to be doing, and it just causes anxiety thinking about it. So the nature of my job is perfect for me and my fragile spirit.However, being with friends is also paramount and lifts the spirit in indefinable ways. I miss being with my people. So, I make sure to get into town and plan social activities regularly because there’s no one on the other side of my desk to tell about the weird thing that just happened to me.

    Although one side of me loves being a homebody, another side of me knows that making time with friends feeds that energetic part of me. Social time is healthy, and I’m all about healthy.

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  7. Write about anxiety: I’ve written a few articles for The Mighty and I’ve discovered that every time I try to put my anxiety or depression into words, I learn something about my anxiety on a little bit deeper level. Finding the lesson in the scary parts, finding the sense in the nonsense, discovering the blessings in the darkest times–writing gives you that!Even if you’re not a writer, you can pretend to write an article like 4 Ways Anxiety Makes Me a Better Mom or This ONE strategy nips my anxiety before it ever starts. This is kinda an extension of the journaling listed above. Putting your experience into words and working through your thoughts in a real tangible way like this gives you better awareness of your anxiety.

    I always hope my published words resonate with and touch other people too. I like to think that my articles might give people the reassuring sense that “someone out there gets it.”

  8. Get dressed: Taking a shower and getting dressed are part of a healthy self-care routine. A healthy self-care routine you’re sometimes too overwhelmed to perform when you’re in the midst of a panicFor that reason, I get dressed and shower every single day. Even if I don’t want to. It’s kinda one of those fake-it-till-you-make-it scenarios where you take care of yourself like you would when you’re in your best states of mind. Anxiety can cause a snowball effect in your life, right down to self-care. So showering and getting dressed are two controllable factors you have at your disposal to push back on that snowball.

    Sometimes I put earrings on even if I’m not leaving my house. I even work better when I’m dressed. It’s good for my productivity and it makes me feel human. Feeling icky is not good for mental health. Showers are.

  9. Keep a schedule: Knowing what I’m doing and when helps on those days when I need to work on autopilot because I can’t work any other way. I have a set of routine tasks I do in the mornings and a pretty predictable way of working each day/week.That way, if I come upon a day, or an entire phase, of anxiety, I can just go through the motions rather than skip life those days entirely. Make sure, when you’re feeling good, that you establish this set routine so that when you come upon an anxious phase, you can “just do it,” as Nike so famously coined.

    I also find that there’s reassurance in having predictable habits. Anxious people don’t necessarily thrive on change, so having a regular schedule helps keep our nerves on a steady keel.

  10. 3, 2, 1, blastoff strategy from Mel Robbins. I’ve pulled out this strategy when I’ve needed to, on those days when I just can’t get out of bed and my mind is screaming at me to get some ish done while my body is not cooperating.All you do is count down, like you’re a spaceship about to launch, “3-2-1 blastoff,” and you jump out of bed. It sounds stupid. Even Mel Robbins admits it’s stupid. But somehow, you just get out of bed, which is the hardest part. Once the hardest part is out of the way, you can get to living.

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So my strategies are pretty textbook. Except maybe that last one or maybe my approach to them. A therapist would suggest many of these. So would every anxiety guidebook out there. So, if you were looking for something more profound, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you don’t practice these regularly.

The trick is to actually do them. To actually practice them.

Try the silly little expanding circle breathing exercise on the Fitbit. And keep trying it for several days in a row, and you might start to experience noticeable effects.

Look, I know some of them sound rudimentary, but they’re freaking effective! The most effective. There’s a reason you hear about them all the time. Because they work.

My anxiety is at an all-time low right now. I feel amazing. It’s a combination of warm weather, autonomy, goal alignment, and personal fulfillment. Yes, I take medication to help temper some of my biological anxiety, but my lifestyle adjustments contribute immensely.

I hope something in this article strikes you and helps you. Maybe even just hearing it from someone who’s gone through it makes you feel a little better. I want to let you know that you are definitely not alone.

I’d love to connect with any other anxiety warriors out there. Tell me in the comments who you are and what you do to tame your wild anxiety;)

4 Golden Nuggets from Pumping Iron

So, I was just listening to a Livestream which led me to Youtube which led to me watching the entire 1977 documentary Pumping Iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The movie follows Arnold and several other bodybuilders to the Mr. Olympia stage as Arnold defends his 6th title as Mr. Olympia.

There’s not a lot of talking during this movie and an exorbitant number of camera shots of ripply muscles. But that’s what makes the words that are said in the movie that much more potent.

I don’t see any of these quotes as just being about bodybuilding, they’re about mindset in general. They’re golden nuggets that can apply to all facets of life and every goal set. Here is a man who knows exactly what he wants, to the letter, and then makes them happen. He does not wait for any of his dreams to come to him.

He makes them happen.

Here were a few things he said that really stuck out to me:

 

I Don’t Have Any Weak Points

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  1. Arnold just matter-of-factly states this in the movie. He’s so completely self-assured. The confidence comes off as arrogance to some, but I can see through that to the no-holds-barred mentality. He’s just got that mindset of, I’m the winner, and he completely embodies it, so he gets it. That is all.

Your turn: think about a goal that you have and what it would look like to reach that goal. Embody the persona of that person and watch how your goals start materializing from that place of complete certainty.

 

I Only Dreamed of Coming to America, and Being the Greatest, and Just Being Different Than Everybody Else

Pumping Iron quote Arnold: being different than everybody else

2. Arnold knows that he’s made for something bigger, something different than the norm and he lives it out. That tunnel vision and channeled determination turned him into the multi-talented actor/bodybuilder/politician that he is, in America. Everything he said he wanted to be, he made happen.

Your turn: do you know that you’re meant to be different than everybody else? Are you living your life in a way that keeps you honest to that?

 

I Called My Mother Already Yesterday and I Said I Won

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3. Arnold called his mom the day before the competition and told her that he won and she said congratulations. His winning was non-negotiable. He had already stepped into the champion identity and claimed it as his own. And win, he did.

Your turn: take your goal and visualize yourself achieving it. Really experience it with all your senses and state out loud that “I won.” Then, continue on your way as though it’s already happened.

 

You Cannot Have Any Kind of a Negative Outside Force Coming In and Affect You

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4. Arnold admits that when he’s in competition mode, he can’t be bothered by anything other than the competition, even if his car were to get stolen in front of him. That laser focus and pruning of negative energy gives Arnold a direct route to success.

Your turn: If you’re headed toward a goal, don’t spend any time on all the things in your way. Just keep your eye on your final destination and find your way through the obstacle course until you get there.

 

I just find this whole thing fascinating. Arnold just knows, believes and visualizes his successes and he achieves them! He does a few questionable things in the movie by messing with his competitors by giving them bad advice and the “I already won” and “you’re not ready speech,” which I don’t agree with. But his laser-focused mentality is something we could all learn from. So much more I could say about this, but I’ll just leave it here.

 

How about you?

Have you ever watched Pumping Iron? What are your thoughts on the Arnold Schwarzenegger mentality?

Walking Barefoot in the Grass

I found out something fascinating today.

Walking barefoot in the grass is magical. Like literally and figuratively.

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I have long been drawn to taking my shoes off and walking through the grass. There’s just something so calming and gentle about it.

Turns out, there’s also something scientific about it.

So today, I found this entire article about how walking barefoot through the grass (officially called “earthing” btw) resets your entire body through electron transfer with the earth. It helps regulate our body rhythms.

Ok, even to me that might sound a little woo-woo. But there’s got to be something to this right? Because doesn’t just the suggestion of walking barefoot in the grass make you want to do it right now?

If you really think about it, shoes do insulate us from the world, don’t they? They disconnect us from the Earth one level.

And that’s before you add flooring and rugs and carpet and cars and concrete….

And if I really start to think about it, my feet barely touch the actual ground during the day and my face barely gets shone the sun. I wake up, get ready (vinyl) and go to my car, which is parked in the garage (concrete). I get a bit of sun through the windshield on my way to work.

Drop off the kids (sidewalk). Go into work (concrete). Don’t see any nature for 8 hours, except when I take a break outside (all paved). Then I go home and I might, only might, go outside. And I might, only MIGHT run my bare feet through the grass.

That’s a whole lot of disconnect between me and nature. And between me and the real actual earth in particular.

Guess what I did on my lunch break today? I totally kicked off my shoes to try and absorb a few electrons…er…run my feet through the tickle of the grass.

Whether or not this reset mIMG_1169.JPGy body, it was an enjoyable experience. Research says it may have lowered cortisol and inflammation levels. I do know that it provided gentle stimulation, it provided a dose of green, it gave me a real connection to the earth, it gave me a little stress relief, at least for a few moments.

 

I challenge you too, dear #flasher, to kick your own shoes off and allow your feet to “feel” and experience something living and be part of the flow of Earth’s electrons.

Alright, #flashme your bare feet in the grass!

 

A Drum Circle Experience

There’s a little bit of hippie in me and every once in awhile it comes out in a free-spirited blend of essential oils, a backyard tepee, a flowy bohemian skirt, or a community drum circle.

This past week, Kayne and I participated in our local drum circle. He had experimented with drumming at the farmer’s market and was willing to give the drum circle a try. Plus, I like to treat him to special one-on-one time when I can, and this was a great opportunity to do that. I’ve always thought he might enjoy something like this.

The drum circle was set up at a park in town instead of their normal headquarters in a nondescript storefront. The outdoor setting had a nice nature/community/open air element to it. Passersby would stop to watch and passing kids were handed maracas and other noise-makers to try.

I love what it says on their website: “Rhythm is universal. It is inside and all around us. From our heartbeat to the cycles of the seasons, it is more a matter of opening ourselves up to remembering and feeling than a music lesson…Using creativity we all possess we will make beautiful music ‘in the moment.'”

Drum circles are really both a physical and emotional experience. I’ve been trying to incorporate more spiritual and mental fitness into my life, and I think drum circles encapsulate a whole bunch of wellness practices:

1. It’s a community builder and great social activity. You’re meeting people and you’re all working together to build something pleasant. A drum circle is a very open group of people.
2. It’s a practice in mindfulness. One of the frontline treatments for my anxiety-related issues is mindfulness. Meditation not only lowers your threshold for stress, but it also helps you live in the present and let worrisome thoughts pass on by. It may sound a bit new-agey, but it’s really grounding. And it’s really effective. It sounds too simple to be very effective, but it is profound!
3. It’s creative.
4. It’s physical and gets me out of my head, where I spend too much time ruminating and analyzing.
5. It’s therapeutic. There are studies about the use of drum circles, and music in general, as an effective form of therapy.
6. The being outside part is also therapeutic.

Bottom line: I’m kinda hooked!

So now, when I’m at work, you might find me listening to drum circles on YouTube which sort of produces calm energy and helps with my concentration. It’s like the musical rhythm gets me into a good work rhythm too. Ok, hippie moment over…