Did you know that according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), about 42.5% of the workforce around the world is self-employed?

In a time when working remotely became popular out of need and convenience, it’s no longer surprising that so many people have decided to transition to self-employment or freelancing. 

Self-employment has been defined as workers who work for themselves. This may be due to having no choice, or simply choosing to become one’s own boss. No matter what the reasons are, self-employment or freelancing can be extremely rewarding. The flexibility of one’s working hours and the opportunity to work literally anywhere in the world — these are only a few among the many reasons why the idea of leaving the corporate life sounds too enticing.

According to surveys, many people choose self-employment for the work-life balance, the flexibility of time, and the idea of being in control of one’s work. The perks of self-employment, however, have come with some drawbacks as well. 

No more office buzz, no more office events, and no more regular human interaction.

Self-employment can be a lonely journey.

Results of a survey found out that about 40% of independent workers have reported feeling lonely since switching to self-employment.

While completely normal, loneliness unchecked can turn into problems for your physical and mental health. In a study by Sarvada Chandra Tiwari, loneliness was explained to be more dangerous than smoking with all its serious effects on the immune system. Don’t freak out! Loneliness can be managed and it doesn’t have to stick around.

If you have been working on your own for a while and just started feeling isolated, look into these four ways to combat loneliness in self-employment:

1. Acknowledge the feeling of loneliness.

The first step to overcoming the feeling of loneliness is acknowledging that you feel lonely. In many instances, loneliness is hidden out of fear of being judged. However, studies have shown that being able to label feelings, regulates your emotions and lessens their intensity.

Don’t be scared to admit that you’re lonely and learn to accept that what you feel is normal!

2. Build a network and connect with people.

You are not alone! If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the isolation, there’s a high chance somebody else out there is feeling the same way too. 

Although being self-employed and working on your own can be liberating, it can also be intimidating sometimes. Joining a community of self-employed people or freelancers where similar experiences can be shared can be extremely helpful. 

Reach out to friends and former colleagues.

Just because you’ve transitioned to self-employment doesn’t mean you should cut off your friends and old workmates. Keep the connection. It could be hard to maintain friends with people you no longer see often, but that’s what phones and the Internet are for! Pick up your phone and schedule a call or a coffee date with a friend.

Find a co-working space.

Consider working outside. If you have the privilege to leave your home any time, look for spaces where you can work instead. By going out of your regular workspace, you get the chance to meet other people — a chance to connect and interact. According to the deputy head of research at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), Chloé Jepps, co-working spaces can be a solution for freelancers who wish to enjoy the support and camaraderie that an office environment provides.

If talking to another human means going out to a coffee shop or a co-working space, do it! It helps build support and perhaps new business collaborations.

Join social media groups.

When you’re not employed by a company and you’re mostly by yourself, the Internet is the next best thing to interact with the world. According to the Grasnet Survey, almost 59% say they feel less lonely online.

The internet has the ability to aid you in finding like-minded people in seconds, so it’s definitely something you’d want to take advantage of!

Check out these online communities where you can find self-employed individuals like you:

Digital Nomads Around the World | Facebook

Freelance, Self-Employed & Remote Working (Worldwide) | Facebook

Independent Contractors Alliance | LinkedIn

FlexJobs LinkedIn Group | LinkedIn

Attend networking events.

If social media and the internet feel less personal, you may always opt to meet other self-employed people and freelancers through networking events. Although these events have lessened the past year, in-person networking still remains to be popular because of its more intentional and personal approach. 

3. Find ways to enjoy time with yourself.

Of course seeking company, while advised, isn’t the only cure for loneliness. Sometimes, by choice or by the lack of it, being alone is the only way to go about your daily tasks. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’d have to be lonely.

Being intentional with your time alone could be as simple as getting a new hobby, adopting from an animal shelter, or going out for a stroll. With your time in your hands, you get the privilege of spending your time on things or activities you’re actually interested in.

4. Seek professional help.

If dealing with your feelings of loneliness gets too difficult, it’s best to contact professional help. A mental health professional can help you identify underlying issues to your feelings of loneliness, isolation, or depression. Seeking help can also help you cope with loneliness in a healthy way while building more meaningful relationships with other people.

Working for yourself can be extremely rewarding. However, it can also make you feel like you’re on your own.

Have you ever heard of water cooler chats? These conversations are popularly described as socialising with colleagues during breaks at work. While it might not be a normal scene for you anymore, there’s a reason why this type of interaction is so popular. It’s that time of the workday when people get together to talk about things non-work-related. It reduces the stress and it takes off people’s minds from their routine — a great way to feel sociable again.

“No man is an island.”

This line taken from John Donne’s Devotion upon Emergent Occasions (1624) perfectly captures human nature. As social beings, it’s difficult not to feel fear, loneliness, or sometimes helplessness whenever we find ourselves doing things without company. However, while it’s perfectly healthy to allow yourself to feel these emotions, it’s also important to remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. Loneliness doesn’t have to be a permanent feeling. Connect with others, personally or virtually. Grow your network and don’t be scared to reach out. Start connecting with others by joining our community on Facebook or send us a message at support@oode.com!