Freelancing Burnout: Causes, Symptoms, and Ways to Avoid it


Research has proven that freelancers are more likely to be faced with burnouts than regular employees. Burnout commonly arises because of a lack of work-life balance, however, there are many other causes from personal life/social life to psychological ones. Pressure from family and friends, the inability to make clear plans for yourself, large workloads, and unhealthy work environments can all lead to freelancer burnouts.


Generally, physical and emotional exhaustion are symptoms of freelancing burnout which can manifest in a variety of ways. If you are overworking yourself both physically and mentally and are unable to relax and recover from work, then it can be a sign of freelancing burnout. The symptoms begin gradually over time, and when left unchecked, can develop into serious issues. These symptoms vary and are many, including physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms which can influence various aspects of your life.

In the early stages, burnout begins with an increased commitment to certain goals. Eventually this lead to a point where you begin to work without having a break or recovering. You now begin to see work as your main purpose in life, and you put all your focus on work with little or no time to interact with others. Hypersensitivity to one’s needs and also suppressing failures are symptoms of freelancing burnout. If you begin to feel tired and exhausted all the time, then you need to slow down.

Some physical symptoms you may notice include sleeping disorders and changes in appetite, muscle ache and back pain, constant headaches, feeling sick frequently, and feeling tired most of the time, just to mention a few.

There are also emotional symptoms of freelance burnouts including fear of rejection and conflicts, loss of motivation, sense of failure and self-doubt, reduced sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated, lethargy and lateness, among others.

Certain behaviors can also be signs and they include abuse of food, alcohol, or drugs to cope, addiction to the web or your phone, shouting at others out of frustration, procrastination, shying away from responsibilities, and lots more.

Individual prevention

When the early signs of work stress begin to show up, there are certain steps you need to take, but the most important of it all is time. Yes, you should give yourself enough time to relax and regenerate. You should engage in activities that redirect your attention from the stress areas and focus on fulfilling your emotional, mental, and physical needs.


To summarize it all, freelancers are always worried about many things ranging from losing important clients to earning too little and lack of job security. Whatever the case may be, if you notice that you are experiencing any of the early signs of freelancing burnout, try to take measures against them. Align your work and private life; look for a healthy balance between the two. To avoid burnout, it is vital to take breaks regularly, stick to fixed office hours, and also learning to say “No”.