10 Tips to Overcoming Loneliness as a Freelancer
My commute this morning didn’t include a long drive nor did it involve blaring car horns or aggressive drivers weaving in and out of traffic. My commute was a groggy walk to the kitchen for my morning cup of joe and then off to my studio to get started with todays work. I’m a freelancer.
Working as a freelance creative from my home studio, I’m more often than not, isolated from the outside world. Yeah, I enjoy the many perks freelancing offers but occasionally struggle with bouts of feeling alone, forgotten and like I’m orbiting unnoticed outside of the hustle and bustle of everyday corporate life.
Although I work solo, I am not alone in the freelance venture. I help make up the massive workforce of 56 million Americans whose commute is a mere few steps away from where we sleep.
I love my work and flexible schedule but freelancing does come with its hurdles. With loneliness being the biggest struggle. The affects of loneliness is so far reaching it’s been deemed an epidemic.
Normally used to express the widespread severity of disease, epidemic now classifies the extent of which loneliness grips our society. With freelancing weighing in at a whopping 56.7 million in the US alone in 2018, up from 3.7 million since 2014, loneliness is at an all time high.
So why should we be concerned about loneliness in the first place? After all isn’t it just a feeling with no real tangible health drawbacks? Hardly so, per Harvard Medical School’s recent study on loneliness.
Recent research suggests that loneliness carries the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is just as detrimental to your health as obesity and if left unchecked can increase your chance of early death by 30%.
Unlike other health conditions loneliness can be difficult to diagnose. A simple blood test, X-ray or blood pressure cuff can not reveal if someones suffering from isolation. Sadly, due to the stigma associated with loneliness many suffer in silence, too embarrassed to ask for help.
If you find yourself missing the comradery of coworkers or simply uninspired by your current grind ask yourself. Am I lonely?
When loneliness creeps in I’ve found a willingness to venture outside my studio helps alleviate my feelings of isolation and makes me feel energized and inspired. I’ve pushed myself to make connections outside of my industry. Something that’s tough to do but has changed my life for the better.
How do I do it?
I joined the APA , American Pool-players Association, where I play competitively one night a week on a league. Pool wasn’t something I thought I would like but I’m thrilled I jumped in and now look forward to league night more than ever. Lesson here, don’t be afraid to try something new.
I joined my local Astronomy Club, CFAS, where I can dive deeper into my love of the night sky.
I’m also an active member of AIGA which affords me the opportunity to jump in on workshops, community meetings, and attend the talks of leading members of our creative community.
Below I’m sharing more tips I’ve found helpful for staving off those lonely vibes and think you will too.
Tips to Overcome Feelings of Loneliness
Reach Out and Connect. This may seem silly but something as simple as a phone call can lift your mood. Don’t be shy. Call a friend. Invite someone to have a cup of coffee and talk shop or just catch up.
Skype, Zoom or FaceTime Lunch. Not in the same city or time zone? Not a problem. Plan a long distance lunch or dinner date. Eating a meal with a familiar face can be just what the doctor ordered.
Plan an Outing. Invite someone to hit up the park/mall/gym. Go see a movie.
Join a Club. If you are a creative AIGA is a great way to connect with others in your field. Become an active member, make new friends and build network of connections. www.aiga.com
Host a Meetup. Find others who share your interests by hosting a meetup in your area. www.meetup.com
Teach. What you know others want to learn. Teach your skills to others, make a little money on the side while connecting with others. Most often students from my workshops reach out to connect after class for extra help, advice or just to say hello. Workshops are a great way to keep loneliness in check.
Work Remote. Get out the house and work at a coffee shop one day a week. This gets you out of the norm and around others. Being surrounded by others provides a sense of community even if you never utter a word.
Get a Pet. It reduces anxiety, high blood pressure and is a great loneliness buster. The Center for Disease Control says having a pet can cure what ails you by decreasing blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. Not to mention pets are great companions. They increase your opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization. They also offer schedules and most always come visit while you work.
Volunteer. Volunteer opportunities offer purpose. Some volunteer opportunities expose us to those less fortunate and encourages us to look inward and focus on gratitude in our own lives.
Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities. Finding a hobby or participating in extracurricular activities can be a huge boost to your overall mental health. And there are so many fun and exciting options available. Think of leagues and clubs that interest you. They offer socializing, the opportunity to learn something new or the chance to dive deeper into a subject you already love and some even provide the thrill of competition.
If you or someone you know is suffering don’t ignore the signs. Paying attention to your own self care and/or extending an invite to another could be life changing.