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Whether you’re a freelancer working for yourself, or you work in a huge corporate office, or anywhere in between, it’s essential that you make your happiness a priority. A stressed-out worker is not an effective worker, and, first and foremost, it’s your responsibility to ensure you’re doing what you can to keep stress at bay. Of course, there will always be anxiety-inducing activities, or stressful periods in your career, but developing effective coping strategies can help you to overcome these periods. And, of course, your employer has a role to play too, so don’t let them weasel their way out of it.

Keep communications open

Open lines of communication make the world go round. Without a good chat occasionally, your boss might not even know that some things they ask of you are causing you significant concern. Communicating openly and honestly allows you feel comfortable approaching them with any questions or worries, and enables them to keep an eye on your progress too. A great boss will be able to tell when work is getting stressful for you, and will work with you to ease the pressure. A bad boss will not notice your struggle, and a terrible or negligent boss won’t care.

Address problems as they arrive

If a project is causing you problems, a colleague and you are unable to see eye to eye, or you just feel like it’s all getting a bit too much, it’s time for a call to action. It’s easy to plunge your head into the sand and pretend it isn’t happening, but nothing gets solved that way (unfortunately). A better bet is to speak to your boss, a trusted colleague, or even an occupational health therapist. They will be able to help you better understand the problems you’re facing, and work out a foolproof way of getting through it. Don’t struggle alone; there are plenty of people willing and able to help you.

Know your rights

When things are getting a bit tough at work, you’re welcome an assessment by a professional. An Occupational Health Assessment, such as that provided by Health Assured, is a medical examination performed by an Occupational Health Physician to address questions raised by an employer. This assessment is always confidential, and will help to determine whether you’re able to work at that time, or whether your employer should be making provisions to help you in the workplace. These occur for mental health, as well as physical health, and are a great way to ensure you’re being treated fairly and getting the support you require from your employer.

Time off means time off

Finally, when you go home in the evening, or take your lunch break, remember that time off does mean time off. It isn’t an opportunity for you to check your emails, answer calls, or carry on working on your project. Our mental health requires us to spend time not thinking about work in order to wind down and relax. If your employer is expecting you to work outside of working hours, a conversation to make them understand the unfairness of this is necessary. And if you’re a freelancer, make sure you turn your computer off at the end of the day and walk away – you deserve to be able to relax.