A Twisted Relationship: Self-Employment and Burnout

It’s been a long year!

And we’re only half of the way through!

If you’re a small business owner, freelancer, or sole trader, you’ll understand very intimately the challenges of being self-employed.

It brings a heightened level of responsibility, and naturally, a much higher level of stress.

You are solely responsible for your income, generating business, and paying the bills. There is no one else to rely on – if you stop, so does your business.

It’s no wonder that so many of us find it near-on impossible to take a break.

With no end to your workload in sight, and no outlet to relieve stress, you can be sure you’ll only be heading one way!


17.9 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety, and depression alone in 2019-20.

That’s before lumping on top the additional, unprecedented stressors of a pandemic!

It’s predicted that around 20% of the English population (that’s 10 million people) will require new or additional mental health support as a direct consequence of the COVID crisis.

An alarming figure.

However, it shows that if you’re struggling, you are certainly not alone.

Signs of burnout?

Have you been working long hours, having sleepless nights, or ‘burning the candle at both ends’?

It can often feel like you have no choice but to continue working past the point of exhaustion – who else will pick up the slack?

Before you completely run yourself into the ground, here are a few key symptoms to watch out for:

• Extreme fatigue
• Emotional exhaustion
• Inability to concentrate
• Lacking creativity
• Difficultly sleeping
• Irritability
• Excessive stress

These may not seem too bad in isolation, but they can lead to more serious long-term, physical issues.

How to fight burnout?

There is no definitive answer to this question, but your work-life balance (or imbalance) is usually at the heart of it.

If you’re thinking ‘what work-life balance?!’ then you might be heading down a dark road. Here’s a few tips on how to change direction!

Take a break

Simple! Can you remember the last time you took a break? When was the last time you put your feet up and had absolutely nothing to worry about?

It might seem abnormal given the pressing deadlines, but the world can wait. Your body and mind will certainly thank you for the chance to switch-off.

You only get one body – look after it before it’s too late

Treat yourself

If you don’t have the chance to get away, decadence is the way to go!

Give yourself the evening off, dip into a candle lit bubble bath, pick through a special box of chocolates, or feast upon your favourite takeaway.

Whatever it may be, there’s nothing better than a bit of me time to alleviate some stress. You know how hard you’ve worked, so you know all the treats you deserve!

Do the essentials

It will feel like everything on your to-do list must be done, and must be done right now. However, if you want to alleviate some pressure, a good way to do this is by identifying the bare necessities.

Once done, you can deal with all the important things, and take them off your plate. Everything else, can wait.

If those deadlines can be moved, move them! If that client will wait, let them!

Give yourself some breathing space.


Meditation is a great way to switch off your brain and give it the much-needed rest it craves. It can take many different forms, so finding the one that works for is very important.

If you don’t have the time to get away from your work, practicing mindfulness is a brilliant way to give yourself a break amongst all the chaos.

It can be done anywhere, at any time so it’s perfect for fitting around your busy schedule!

Reach out

If you’re struggling to cope, reach out to your friends and family. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help.

Most people you talk to will have found themselves in a similar situation and will therefore be more than happy to help out.

You are never alone.

Professional Help

Of course, if you’ve tried a number of things and nothing seems to be improving, it might be time to seek help from a professional.

It’s been one hell of a year!

We’ve been surviving through a seemingly never-ending pandemic, and we’re so nearly out the other side!

Stay strong, look after yourself, and fight the burnout!

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