Coping With Stress and Anxiety When You’re Self-Employed

Whether you are an entrepreneur or freelancer, have a brick-and-mortar or online business, sell products or provide services, or are an influencer or content creator, there are many unique challenges that come with being self-employed. Facing the pressures of customer or client demands, financial uncertainty, and the solitude of working independently are just a few of the situations that can provoke stress and anxiety. In this episode, we’ll explore the unique challenges of being your own boss and the emotional rollercoaster that can come with it. I’ll guide you through strategies to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and foster resilience in the face of self-employment’s unpredictable nature.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The unique pressures and challenges faced by self-employed individuals
  • The relationship between self-employment and mental health
  • Practical strategies to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and foster resilience when you are self-employed




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Calmly Coping Podcast

INTRO/OUTRO MUSIC: Rescue Me (Instrumental) by Aussens@iter (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Copperhead

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Click to view the episode transcript.

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer, you have a brick and mortar or online business, you sell products or provide services, or you are an influencer or content creator, there are many unique challenges that come with being self employed. Facing the pressures of customer or client demands, financial uncertainty, and the solitude of working independently are just a few of the situations that can provoke stress and anxiety.

In this episode of Calmly Coping, we’ll explore the unique challenges of being your own boss and the emotional roller coaster that can come with it. I’ll guide you through strategies to manage stress, diminish anxiety, and foster resilience in the face of self employment’s unpredictable nature. Welcome to Calmly Coping.

My name is Tati Garcia and I’m a licensed therapist and coach specializing in high functioning anxiety. I help ambitious professionals stop putting themselves last so they can feel more calm, balanced, and confident from within. If this topic interests you, then please like, subscribe, and hit the notification bell so you will be notified every time I release a new episode.

Thank you so much for tuning in. When it comes to my personal experience, I have been self employed for the past five years and I have worked with many individuals who are self employed themselves. And there are a lot of unique challenges that can come with being self employed. Maybe feeling emotionally tied to the ups and downs of your business, feeling like everything falls on you, feeling fear and anxiety when things aren’t going well or aren’t working up to your expectations. I like to think of the quote with more freedom comes more responsibility. And this is definitely the case when it comes to being self employed. Although you have more freedom, depending upon what your business model is, that you have the option to make your own decisions and do what works best for you.

This also comes with the added responsibilities that inevitably go along with being self employed. So let’s talk about some of those specific unique struggles that go along with being self employed. So number one is that it can turn into a 24 7 job. I’ve heard many individuals say that they quit a nine to five job to start a 24 7 job and had no idea that that’s what it would be like when they went into being self employed.

So it can be hard to stop thinking about your business because it is so busy. personal to you. So maybe you have a fear of not doing enough, a fear of forgetting ideas that you want to work on or new things that you want to do. And this can turn it into something that you are constantly thinking about.

Next, there can be a lot of pressure that you feel. It can feel like it all rests on you, and that can make it harder to take breaks or take time off. It can make it harder to delegate and ask for help when it comes to your business, maybe make hiring decisions. And in addition, this pressure can be financial.

So of course there is, depending upon how big your business is, there is the lack of budget. benefits. So you may not have paid time off a 401k or a retirement plan, health insurance, or any of those additional benefits that come with being employed. This can feel like there’s a lack of security and a lack of a safety blanket if you do need to take time off or if sales aren’t as expected.

So this can add to that pressure that you feel that you need to constantly be hustling and doing it all. Additionally, what can happen is that it can start to feel like your self worth is tied to how well your business is doing. So this means that the way you feel about yourself as a person, your worthiness, your value can go up and down depending upon if your business is doing really well.

You can feel really great and really positive and optimistic and confident in yourself. Whereas if your business isn’t doing well, then you can feel really down and doubtful and insecure and like there’s something wrong with you and you should be doing better. And this can result in behaviors such as overworking if you are pushing yourself and trying to constantly do more as well as procrastination.

So the opposite end, maybe if you are feeling fearful of the consequences or putting a lot of pressure on yourself, you may procrastinate things because it feels really overwhelming to do things. Additionally, it can sometimes feel like it’s never enough and you could feel like a failure if you aren’t.

Doing enough because in many ways you can determine the limit depending upon again, how your business is structured. Sometimes the amount of income you make can just be dependent upon how many hours you are putting in to your job. And so it can feel like You are limiting yourself if you are not putting more time and energy into your business.

However, we all have capacities and there is only so much that you can put into work without feeling drained, exhausted, and potentially burnt out as a result. And this begs the question of thinking of when will it be enough? When will you have succeeded? When is the right time to scale? Do you even want to scale?

When is the right time to start taking more time for yourself and delegate tasks? These are all important questions that go along with being self employed, and it can feel sometimes overwhelming. overwhelming and put you in this place of feeling like you’re constantly on the hamster wheel of trying to do more.

And it can also be hard to shut off that grind that got you to where you are. As somebody who’s self employed, I can bet that you are somebody who is ambitious and who works hard. And especially when you are starting a business, that can require a lot of working, a lot of quote unquote hustling. And sometimes that hard work and that hustle that got you to where you are.

Actually, I should say, oftentimes, it’s not sustainable. It’s not something that you can continue in perpetuity and just never endingly keep hustling and pushing yourself harder. We all have to take the foot off of the gas pedal at some point. And so sometimes that shift can be difficult to discern. When is it time to do that?

When is it okay to sit back and coast if that time ever comes or even just allow yourself to take more time off, allow yourself to decompress and stop putting all of that pressure on yourself. Another stressor that can come along with being self employed is the inconsistency in income. This can create financial stress and anxiety, worrying about if this month or this quarter is going to be as good or better than the previous one.

There’s not that reliability that comes with a consistent paycheck. And so if you’re somebody who is struggling financially or who is susceptible to financial stress and or anxiety, this can be especially challenging for you. It can sometimes feel difficult to manage that inconsistency and feel secure when it comes to your business.

Another struggle can be decision fatigue. So this is just a quick example. The exhaustion, feeling tired from making decisions because there may be nobody to defer to you might be overthinking decisions, especially if you’re in a place of self doubt or anxiety, you might wonder what the right choice is, especially if you’re somebody who tends to be a perfectionist, feel like I need to make the perfect choice or it’s going to fail or something terrible is going to happen.

So this can be another challenge. Additionally, comparison can be something that comes up a lot when you are self employed. And this is especially true, in my opinion, if you are on social media or seeing, you know, these successful entrepreneurs who are often only sharing the highlights could. Possibly even be exaggerating their claims, making super high income, and that can make you feel like you’re not doing enough or there’s something wrong with you because you’re not at that level of these people who are sharing these exuberant income claims.

You might also feel isolated as somebody who is self employed, especially if You don’t know anybody personally who is self employed or you work solo So you’re somebody who is a solopreneur you might feel like nobody understands even if you do have a team you are of course the one at the top and you might feel like There’s nobody that you can go to or nobody that fully understands how you’re feeling.

And then especially if you’re working from home or you’re working remotely, this can also be physically isolating. And another thing that can come up that can kind of seem counterintuitive, but it’s that the guilt of, privilege is what I like to call it. So the privilege that you have maybe as somebody who has more time freedom, if this is applicable, or as somebody who is maybe doing something that you love or are passionate about compared to friends or family member who are maybe just working as a means to an end.

And so there can be this double edged sword of feeling privileged privilege. to be doing something like that or feeling as though this is obviously a positive thing when you hear people complaining about their jobs. However, again, as all of the things I previously stated, there’s a lot that goes along with that.

And I just want to reiterate here, I’m going to get into specific tips right after this, but when it comes to that guilt of being I think it’s important to recognize that each and every person is in a different situation. And just because you have some benefits when it comes to your job, or just because maybe you’re super happy with what you’re doing overall, and you do love it and you do enjoy it, that’s nothing to feel guilty about.

And feeling guilty about that doesn’t change your situation. It doesn’t make other people feel any better. So when it comes to emotions. They’re all valid, meaning that there’s nothing wrong with feeling a certain way. However, they’re not always justified. So meaning that just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean that it is based on facts and evidence.

Now let’s get into the specifics of what you can do if you’re somebody who is self employed and you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, putting tons of pressure on yourself, maybe feeling overwhelmed and feeling like you don’t have a support system. My first tip is to identify. What security is for you, especially if you’re somebody who struggles with that financial anxiety, identifying what will help you feel safe.

Maybe it is looking at and staying connected to your numbers and recognizing how much it is that you need in order to sustain your lifestyle, in order to sustain your business. And if it’s possible for you, opening something like an emergency fund that will help you to feel prepared in case an emergency happens.

This is something that you can contribute to slowly over time. Of course, I am not a financial expert or planner or anything, but sometimes having that set up can help you to feel more prepared to cope with the ups and downs that inevitably come with self employment. And so it can look like identifying what is a stable source of income in your business if you do have different sources of income and maybe either prioritizing that or keeping that as something that will help you to feel like you have a safety net.

This is going to look different for everybody. Of course, everybody has a different level of risk comfort when it comes to what they are able to risk when it comes to their business and different decisions that you’re making. So for me personally, my kind of security is My one on one clients. So this is my therapy and my coaching clients, because I know that those are things that are going to be consistent and allow me to feel secure with my business.

When it comes to the other pieces of my business, this includes my online courses. and community and other sources of income, like Google AdSense or affiliate income. So these are excellent sources of income as well. Well, not all of them. I mean, I don’t make tons from Google AdSense, but these are all excellent additional sources.

However, I don’t see them as kind of like my bread and butter and Maybe there will be a point where I’m able to scale them to the point where I feel more secure with them. But right now, that bedrock for me is my one on one clients. So this is gonna look different for everybody. So maybe if your business is just naturally inconsistent, it’s looking at if there are certain seasons where things are busier.

And so if this is the case, really prioritizing and focusing on that and then allowing yourself to rest and recover. and identifying, okay, is there a certain amount you need in your emergency fund in order to weather these ups and downs? So another thing that can be helpful when you are self employed to cope with the stress and anxiety that can come up is to celebrate your progress.

This can be especially helpful if you’re somebody who tends to go through periods of self doubt, feel like it’s never enough. Because we can oftentimes focus more on what we aren’t doing rather than what we are already doing well. And so when you can celebrate those wins, that’s going to allow you to connect with that feeling and remind and rewire your brain.

To then focus on and recognize everything that already is going well, because I’m sure there are plenty of things that are going well. I’m sure even if you think in hindsight to how your business was doing previously, whether it was six months ago or a few years ago, I can guarantee that you have made progress.

And even if it’s not financial progress, I can guarantee that you have made progress when it comes to learning more or understanding maybe what doesn’t work. And at the end of the day, that is all. a measure of progress. So you can make this something that is practical, maybe at the end of the day or your week or your month, recognizing what has gone well.

And this is a great way to really cement that so that you can then build that momentum to continue doing what is working. So next, a thing that could be helpful is identifying what enough actually is. If you’re the kind of person that the goalpost keeps moving and it still feels like it’s never enough, what is enough for you?

This could be an excellent journal prompt to go through and reflect upon what does this look like for you personally and professionally? What is the point where you will feel settled? And of course, there’s never a point where we arrive and we’re like, everything is perfect and I never have to work again.

That would be ideal. Hopefully that is a point that you can reach either when you retire or beforehand. However, when you’re somebody who’s self employed, I can guarantee that your work is a big part of who you are and something that’s important to you. And so it can just help to reflect upon, all right, When can I feel like I’m settled and make decisions from a place of desire rather than a place of fear?

Because when you’re making decisions from a place of fear, it’s this worry that, well, what if I don’t do this and my business falls apart versus, I’m feeling settled and I want to do this because it’s something I desire. Again, this is going to look different for everybody. If you’re in that place of fear, it’s okay.

And it’s just about recognizing and acknowledging those fears and asking yourself, when will you feel like it’s enough? And this might look financial, it could look like a number, this might look like your lifestyle, maybe you want to be working a certain number of hours a week, it could look like how your relationships are or your status within your business, whatever it is for you, reflecting upon what that is.

And, you know, another thing that can be helpful is assessing whether your business choices and decisions continue to align with your desires and needs. and passions and making these decisions from a data driven place. So many times emotions can come into our decision making and it can feel like there’s a lot of ups and downs because we’re going based on how you’re feeling on a day to day basis.

So using the data and numbers as a kind of guideline for making your decision. decisions can be helpful in addition to reflecting on is this something that aligns with, like I mentioned, your desires, your passions. Of course, that’s not always going to be the case. Sometimes there are things that we continue doing or we feel as though we want to continue doing because there is a positive outcome.

They may not necessarily be tied to desire and passion. However, I find that that when you can connect to that desire or maybe that sense of purpose, then that can help you to feel more fulfilled in the process. So I have a monthly membership community, the common ambitious community, and I used to provide monthly trainings every month.

And I found that this was becoming something that was super time consuming and I was starting to procrastinate it, feel overwhelmed by it. And so what I did was I made the decision to start quarterly workshops and challenges because at that point, I already had a big library of trainings. I also didn’t want to overwhelm my members.

So I have a library that’s there. I feature, I started this month featuring a new one each month for people to focus on and I’m creating content still, but it’s less frequently so as to not overwhelm people. And I’m focusing more on creating accountability along with a resource that’s provided of monthly affirmations and journal prompts, so it’s something that is simple and not overwhelming for both me and for my members.

So that was the decision that I made when I realized, okay, for me it was a signal that I was procrastinating, I was feeling frustrated, so that was a sign that Something needs to change here and that brings me to my next point where you can view decisions as experiments. So a lot of times there can be emotions coming up surrounding our decisions.

This is the bigger point that I’ve been kind of touching on throughout each of these videos. tips that I’m sharing that understanding your emotions as a business owner is a huge skill that’s not going to just benefit the way that you interact with other people or the way that you feel, but also how you make decisions as a business owner and how you handle the inevitable ups and downs that come along with this.

I mentioned viewing decisions as experiments. So for example, Uh, This is the first podcast episode that I’m recording audio only since June of 2021. So, for that entire time, I have been doing podcast episodes, both audio and video. So, recording the video so that I can post that to my YouTube channel and expand my reach in that way.

And that has been my goal. Great. And it’s been something that’s been super helpful. And at the same time, I found myself in the place of, like I mentioned previously, procrastinating and pushing off recording these episodes because it felt like there was a lot of friction associated with it because I felt like I had to get ready and, you know, set up the lighting and do all of this.

And I tried to make it as easy as possible, but I still found myself struggling with that. And it was harder because it would often take longer because I would be pausing to look down at my script and to make sure I was looking directly into the camera. And so, for a while I’ve had the idea, okay, what if I just try to do audio only?

But there was fear coming up. There was the worry that, what if people don’t like it? What if the people who subscribe to me on YouTube stop watching? And that negatively impacts me. The amount of clients and students that I’m getting, because that’s where a lot of people find me when it comes to my business.

So there was fear and I was able to recognize that and then re frame it as, okay, this is an experiment. And I think that’s a helpful perspective and something that I have done when it comes to my business, that every decision you make is something that you can see as an experiment. Try it. And look at the data and see what happens.

I did this about a year and a half ago with my Instagram account. I completely logged off and I was like, all right, let me log off and see what this does to my business. And I found that I was still able to run my business successfully. I have since. I think starting like two months or so ago, gone back to Instagram, but in a way that is less time consuming, I’ve delegated it so that I can expand my reach in that way.

But I conducted this experiment to help me see what is the actual impact of this marketing channel for my business. So essentially, long story short with this decision, what I am doing now is experimenting with. Okay. Doing an audio only episode feels easier for me. It feels like there is less that I have to do to prepare.

It feels like I can just talk naturally. I don’t know why. It feels different, and so it’s something that I am experimenting with, and I’m going to try it out here and there to just see in the long run What’s the impact and that brings me to the next point, which can be creating structure within your business.

So this can help to relieve a lot of stress and anxiety. If you’re the kind of person who brings your business with you 24 seven, who is constantly responding to emails or responding to client calls, or is. You know, doing work on the weekends and staying up late on your laptop in bed, and you’re finding that it’s tough for you to disconnect.

So this can be setting clear expectations and boundaries that work for you. So this could be setting specific work hours and communicating this to others within your business. So maybe that is communicating to clients. I don’t answer email on the weekends. This is what I do with my clients. Or maybe it is communicating to your staff or to vendors or whoever it is that you work with that this is when I am available to respond to inquiries.

And of course, this is going to depend on your business. And maybe that looks like setting up systems so that somebody is available. If you have the kind of business that is more of a 24 hour thing or a seven day a week thing. Finding things that you can do to help you to set clear expectations will help you to mentally disconnect so that you won’t feel this pressure of if somebody reaches out to you that you have to respond to them immediately.

But if they reach out on a Saturday and you know that they know I don’t answer on weekends, then you can feel like you can let that be and return to it on Monday morning. So another important thing is self care. So this is about just taking time to care for yourself, doing things that you enjoy, taking time away from your business, away from thinking about ideas, away from just doing things related to your business.

And taking care of your physical, your mental health, your creativity. So this can include exercise, joining activities like recreational groups, engaging in hobbies, something that I’ve been recently doing is knitting, mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga or things that help you to connect with yourself.

Finding what works best for you and what helps you to feel your best. So this episode has been longer than expected and this is a topic I could go on and on about. But I want to share one important final tip, which is finding community and support because being self employed can be isolating. It is so important to have community and you have to often make efforts to find that community.

So this can look like fellow business owners, maybe joining a group of business owners. If there’s one locally or online, maybe if you have friends who are self employed and connecting with them and asking them what their experience is like, maybe it is a local networking group or online community.

Reaching out to family or having a mentor or peer, just having that system of support can be really valuable with counteracting that feeling of isolation that can inevitably become. There are also local government resources. If you’re located in the United States, there is the small business administration.

I have previously used resources from the score program. So this is a free business mentoring program. Maybe for you, it looks like. finding a business coach or an accountability group or something else with that respect. And if you’re somebody who is looking for support because you’re struggling with stress and anxiety, you want to maintain healthy boundaries between your work and your personal life, maybe you’re overthinking decisions or struggling with self doubt and confidence when it comes to your business.

This is something that I offer coaching for when it comes to you. self employed individuals and entrepreneurs. So this can be if you’re somebody who’s going through a transition, maybe you are scaling your business, maybe you are delegating, maybe you are wanting to spend less time working and more time with your family or more time on hobbies, whatever it is for you.

These are things that I can support you with. You can learn more by going to calmly coping. com slash coaching or clicking on the link in the So I encourage you to take what resonated with you from this episode and leave the rest. I know I shared a lot of tips, but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

If you are watching on YouTube or if you are listening on Spotify, what is your desire when it comes to being somebody who is self employed? What is the number one thing that you want to work on and that you got from this episode? And while you wait for a response, the next episode. I have other episodes about calming your mind, creating work life balance and feeling more confident from within.

So be sure to check out these episodes here. Thank you so much for tuning in today and until next time, be calm.

Until next time…

Be Calm,


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Hey, I'm Tati!

I believe that everybody deserves to live a calm, fulfilling life. My hope is to inspire high achievers to stop fear from running their lives and start putting their needs first.

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