5 Steps to Recovery from Freelancing Burnout

5 Steps to Recovery from Freelancing Burnout

Freelancers know firsthand: the main working tool of a modern person is the brain. Like an engine in production, it needs to be operated under certain conditions. The brain is quite capable of coping with a short-term load, but if working at maximum becomes part of life, it can happen professional burnout. This is the name of a condition in which a person experiences not just fatigue, but moral and physical exhaustion with decreased productivity, sleep disturbances and general well-being.

In this article you will learn:

  • how to recognize that you are experiencing burnout;
  • what causes this condition may have;
  • what steps will help restore strength;
  • What actions should you take to avoid burnout?

Physical and emotional state are the most important assets for life in general and harmonious career growth in particular. If you want to work correctly and effectively as a freelancer, feel strength, energy and even inspiration, then this article is definitely for you.

How to tell if you are experiencing burnout

Happiness rests on the balance of different areas of life, including professional. To catch this “zen”, you should turn off the most energy-consuming parasitic states that negatively affect your productivity. I suggest answering a few questions that will help you decide whether professional burnout exists in your life right now:

  1. Do you feel emotionally drained after work?
  2. Has your motivation to work decreased?
  3. Do you find it difficult to concentrate on tasks?
  4. Feeling more irritable than usual?
  5. Has your sleep quality decreased?
  6. Are you getting sick more often?
  7. Feeling lonely and isolated?
  8. Do you feel guilty when you don’t work?
  9. Have you found it difficult to make simple everyday decisions?
  10. Do you feel like your work has no meaning?

If you answered “yes” to three or more questions, then you should slow down, breathe and seriously think about whether it’s time to evaluate the situation and change the approach to your work.

What leads to professional burnout

We are all different, but the human brain has evolved over thousands of years according to the same rules. Therefore, it is subject to very similar cognitive distortions in all of us. For example, in a state of stress, it becomes difficult for many to cope with a large amount of responsibility, and in a state of strong love, it becomes difficult to concentrate on routine things that are not related to the object of feelings. That is why it makes sense to take a closer look at the general list of reasons leading to professional burnout.

Perhaps one of the following is eating up your energy:

  • Irregular working hours. As a mother with 15 years of experience, I will share my observation: small children love rituals. Repeated everyday actions tell kids what will happen next. Getting up in the morning, you need to wash your face, and in the evening before going to bed you need to take a bath, then go to bed and listen to your mother’s fairy tales. All these “magical” parts of the day transform the chaotic world into a more harmonious and understandable one. And when the world becomes unpredictable, it’s easy to get scared – the brain begins to frantically search for a pattern to respond. And if he doesn’t find it, he attracts a whole heap of vital forces to quickly draw up a plan of action. We grow, but our basic response mechanisms remain unchanged. If you want to unload your brain, make at least a minimal schedule, add work rituals and stick to it.
  • No limit between work and personal life. Living by work alone is definitely a bad idea. I understand those freelancers who have not yet received financial stability and are afraid of losing the project, which is why they work very hard just to get a good task and do it perfectly. This approach instantly shifts the focus from life itself exclusively to work, where, let’s face it, it’s simply impossible to control everything. Therefore, you will have to learn to work for life, and not live for work. The resource state allows you to work better and more productively, and therefore earn more.

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  • Social isolation. The most basic and necessary type of communication is visual. By looking at the world, people, animals, you get the necessary information base about life. Without this, a deviation occurs: the brain at work performs only a certain type of task, but does not have its natural observation function. This is not normal for our species. It’s important not to just “talk to people,” because when you talk to customers or other freelancers, you are, in essence, communicating. You need to make direct contact: walk along your favorite paths in the park, look in different directions and delight your brain with simple contemplation, for which it is just as created as for solving intellectual problems.

5 steps to recuperation

If you feel like you’re burning out, don’t ignore the signs. Let’s look at what you can do to relax, recover and get back to work.

1. Setting priorities and setting boundaries. Review your tasks and determine what is most important. Don’t be afraid to give up on a few projects if you feel like you can’t handle it: it’s much better to complete some tasks, but well, than a million, but so-so. It will also be useful to set clear boundaries between work and personal time. Follow a schedule as if you were working in an office: for example, five days a week from 9:00 to 18:00. The rest of the time is yours. You can use it for walking, meeting or studying. Or you can just lie on the green grass and look at the sky. These are all worthy activities that will help you maintain your work rhythm.

2. Regular rest. Weekends are needed. You also need vacation several times a year and sick leave if you feel unwell. This is not a luxury, but a way of existence and one of the means for a more thoughtful approach to work.

3. Self-organization. Treat freelancing like a job you have to go to: don’t sit in front of the computer in your pajamas, get yourself tidied up, make your favorite drink and start tasks. And do not forget that during the day there must be time for a full lunch and communication with colleagues, which can be replaced by the same walk.

4. Delegation of tasks. Nobody prohibits a freelancer from hiring other freelancers to perform any tasks. On Freelancehunt, which has already become a home for Ukrainian freelancers over the 18 years of its existence, you can create a team and assign tasks to other performers. The positive here is twofold: it’s easier for you, and another freelancer, especially a beginner, will be happy to increase his rating with the help of routine and quick projects.

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5. Healthy lifestyle. Here we are not talking about getting up at the first rays of the sun and waking up with a grueling run – life in this mode is not suitable for everyone. But you should, for example, exclude from your diet foods that make you feel uncomfortable. You also need to observe yourself: what helps you feel better, and what disturbs your peace, even in the background. You also really need to make sure that there are more pleasant and useful things in your life.

Return to workflow

Without haste, gently, carefully – this is how you should treat yourself. Only in carefully organized internal dialogue can you find the basis for the career ladder of the desired height. In practice it looks like this:

  • Take a break exactly at the moment when you feel the need. Allow yourself to put aside all tasks for the sake of the highest goal – your own comfort.
  • Give yourself as much time as you need. You can return to work in two cases: if you feel that you are ready or if you have run out of money. Both options are great motivators for working with renewed enthusiasm.
  • Make plans. And always leave yourself a little temporary space at the end of each task in case edits are needed.
  • Dream realistically. All the talk about “I’m making a million now,” when that’s not the case, is another cognitive distortion. It will not allow you to look at things soberly and will interfere with making plans. Grow gradually – this is the most natural and reliable way.
  • Track your progress. Praise yourself for completing the task, big and small victories. And in case of failure, analyze the problem, draw conclusions and use this knowledge to strengthen your working abilities in the future.

3 preventative tips to prevent burnout in the future

Let’s look at a few additional tools that will help you maintain work-life balance:

1. Learn. It is important to view acquiring skills not as a necessary part of the job, but as a habit. If you can make the thirst for learning a part of your personality, then each victory in the process will also become a part of your personality that will convince you of your own strength.

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2. Love the layout. Distribute tasks between working days, feel free to leave time for rest. This will help cope with internal anxiety, which requires a lot of energy.

3. Think positively. Another simple but effective way to protect yourself from burnout. Treat every task like a game that you can win if you have enough passion.


Using the tips and tricks in this article, freelancers can rejuvenate and get back to being productive. It is important to set boundaries between professional and personal life, learn self-organization, decide to delegate tasks, and also take care of a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t forget that your physical and mental health are valuable assets, so put them first. Understand the symptoms of burnout, pay attention to your well-being, and take steps to restore your energy. This process may take time, but it will definitely be a valuable contribution to your well-being and success in the future.

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