As someone in the creative industry, you know the importance of self-discipline and mental well-being. That’s especially true if you work independently. There are so many benefits to being an independent contractor, especially when you get to let your creativity shine. However, there are plenty of things that can put a damper on your mental state. Not only do those things impact the quality of your work, but they can have a negative effect on your personal life, too. With the holidays just around the corner, the struggles of seasonal depression and changing routines can take a toll on your mental health. Now is the time to focus on what you can do to mitigate and manage those holiday challenges.
With that in mind, let’s cover a few tips you can use to maintain your mental health this winter, so you can manage a heavier workload, avoid burnout, and reduce the negative impact of issues like seasonal depression.
Also on Mediabistro
1. Refresh Your Best Practices
If you’ve been working in the creative space for a while, either as a contractor or for a company, you already know the importance of keeping things in place that allow you to stay productive while maintaining your mental health.
During the holidays, it’s easy to forgo some of those practices. Routines get disrupted and the days can often feel shorter as it gets darker earlier. If you start to notice that your habits are slipping and it’s causing you to feel unmotivated, stressed, or even depressed, take the time to refresh your best practices and determine the things that help you feel your best. That could include things like:
- Maintaining a daily routine;
- Staying physically active;
- Keeping up your social life;
- Focusing on one project at a time;
- Taking frequent breaks.
Some of the simplest self-care habits can make a big difference in how you feel. Things like exercising, eating a healthy diet, and spending time outside can improve your mood, boost your energy levels, and make it easier to enjoy the season rather than drudging through it. If you struggle with seasonal depression or you just tend to feel “down” this time of year, keeping a solid routine and practicing self-care won’t just help you with your work life but will also make you stronger and healthier, overall.
2. Declutter Your Space
Many people wait until the new year to give themselves a “fresh start.” However, you can get a head start on that now and alleviate some stress from your holiday season by cleaning and organizing your work area.
It’s essential to stay mentally healthy and have a sense of clarity as you work throughout the holiday season. Having a decluttered office space can make a big difference. Not only will it lead to fewer distractions, but it will also reduce the risk of human error as you get your work done.
You’re less likely to feel overwhelmed and bogged down, and you can feel good about entering the new year knowing you already have a decluttered workspace that allows you to be safe and productive. Organizing your space the way you want can also help to boost creativity and inspire you to come up with new ideas.
3. Set Boundaries
The holidays are arguably the busiest time of year for many people. Your clients might be asking more of you as they’re rolling out holiday specials or “end of the year” promotions. You might feel pressured to create more content so you can get a head start on the new year. On top of that, you have to deal with the stress from your personal life, whether it’s buying presents, attending parties and events, or preparing your home for the season.
Pause and take a deep breath.
Keep in mind that even remote workers have to set boundaries when it comes to how much they take on. When it comes to your work schedule, you can implement those boundaries by:
- Switching “off” at the end of the day and not doing work outside of your normal hours;
- Having a dedicated workspace at home;
- Maintaining consistent work hours;
- Turning off notifications when you’re done for the day.
It’s just as important to set boundaries in your personal life, especially during this season. Working from home doesn’t mean you should allow others unrestricted access to your time. You don’t have to accept every party invitation or offer to make your famous casserole for the next family get-together. Learning how to say “no” can be a huge asset to your mental health. Focus on a few things you want to do over the season, and let yourself decline the things that will wear down your energy and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
The holiday season should be a time of enjoyment and relaxation. While it can often feel extremely busy, stressful, and even gloomy, taking care of yourself, setting boundaries, and finding ways to experience comfort and peace during the season can combat those issues and make it easier to maintain your mental health.