The Gender Gap: Why Self-Employed Women Struggle More With Their Mental Health Than Men By Janelle Christa

Recent studies suggest that women in self-employment find it harder to maintain a healthy work/life balance than men. Unfortunately, women are still battling more social, political, and cultural issues than ever before.

Women are more likely to put psychological turmoil down to mere depression. They’re also still expected to take on the lion’s share of responsibility for family and the home. What’s more, when it comes to income and roles, the inequality here remains rife.

Janelle Christa has coached many self-employed men and women throughout her career. Yet, when it comes to self-employment, she’s found that it’s the women who struggle to balance health and well-being – often doing so at a cost to their mental health. Here Janelle offers her 5 tips for reducing everyday pressures for all women self-employed and/or working from home. 

Make a routine

All successful and productive self-employed people know that routine is crucial. Though many believe you can be self-employed and set your own hours, the reality is that it does require a little give and take.  

Whether that routine must coincide with school days, standard nine till five hours, or even night work, a routine will ensure goals are set and matched each working day. Many women thrive on routine and structure and knowing what lies ahead. Routines also highlight how many hours of the day are available and what is and, of course, isn’t possible at this time. Ultimately, by creating a routine and sticking to it, the mind is mentally prepared for various scenarios that routinely crop up throughout self-employment.

Take regular breaks 

Many women go through a working day without taking any short breaks or even lunch breaks. Yet, nothing is more crucial than regular breaks. This is especially so for those self-employed who can find themselves chained to the desk for a considerable proportion of their working week. By scheduling breaks into a routine and taking them away from the desk, it ensures that bad habits don’t form.

Breaks will also encourage a more positive frame of mind, as well as aiding the sleeping process. This then reduces the potential of low moods and reduced energy throughout the working day. 

Switch off 

It’s difficult for most people to stop entirely at the end of the working day. Yet, self-employment makes it more challenging when the lines between a woman’s home and work are blurred.

This leads to difficulty separating the two, which can, over time, have severe issues for mental well-being. Everyone needs a point at which they shut the computer down, turn the phone to silent, or simply disconnect. An ideal solution, where possible, is to have a designated workspace with a door. Then, when the working day’s done, the door can be shut, and the mind begins to connect this action with switching off. 

Keep contact with friends

Being self-employed can quickly become isolating. It’s all too easy to go for an entire week here without seeing anyone. Yet, though all human beings are naturally social creatures, women especially benefit immensely when they have a reliable network of other women to call upon.

Whether this group meets in person or online, it’s vital not to neglect friendships or put off contact when self-employed. Try setting a time in the diary to suit all and then sticking to it religiously. That way, any issues can be resolved swiftly with the help of other like-minded people. 

Learn to say no!

A common issue all women face is the inability to say no. But for those self-employed women, the guilt that forms around this two-letter word can be immense. The answer here can only come from realising that no woman is a superwoman – and neither should they aspire to be one. So, saying no to those unnecessary pressures means protecting that most precious commodity of all here – that of time. Self-employed women need to be fair but firm. For this to be successful, it’s also about recognising there are only so many hours in a day, and they can’t all be taken up with everyone’s demands. 

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