Freelancer emotional and mental fatigue is a reality every liberal professional goes through at one time or another.
“In a 2005 study published in the journal Work and Stress, a team of researchers examined the self-reported health of freelancers using an effort-reward imbalance model (essentially a scientifically verifiable cost-benefit analysis). Developed in 1996 by study co-author Johannes Siegrist, a senior professor at the University of Dusseldorf, the model took both extrinsic and intrinsic factors into account. The former encapsulated external experiences like client demands and compensation, while the latter examined freelancers’ commitment to work, characterized by an “inability to withdraw from work, thinking about it day and night,” Siegrist says.”

This research showed that about 37% of freelancers showed signs of poor subjective health with a more specific pattern of problems such as chronic strain and a reduced ability to relax. A high level of job insecurity and financial difficulties are the most common stressors. When a Freelancer gets a slow day he usually fears it might grow to a slow week and stay that way and bring about the end of days. And all this changes as pitches are won and the pace picks up.

Lindsey Kesel from the Huffingtonpost suggests 10 ways in which a freelancer’s life is different from an employee’s life:

  • A Freelancer is never off duty
  • A Freelancer may or may not get paid
  • A Freelancer has complete control of the work environment
  • A Freelancer can set his own hours
  • A Freelancer doesn’t waste time at the water cooler
  • A Freelancer has to market himself all the time
  • A Freelancer can’t waste time wishing he was doing something else
  • A Freelancer will inspire others to follow their dreams
  • A Freelancer has to manage the work-life balance along with the checking account
  • A Freelancer tends to be a jack of all trades from delivery boy, to CEO, to sales, to accounting and so on

Some of these challenges and the need to be always on duty and hunting for work is un natural when compared to how one is taught in school. One is either groomed to be an excellent employee or entrepreneur. Something akin to a freelancer but in essence quite different.

The quick highs and lows lived by a freelancer strongly promotes emotional fatigue and create the grounds for all the symptoms of mental fatigue to present themselves such as: sleep disorders, lack of focus, lack of attention and in some cases very high levels of anxiety. All these create the grounds for a state of mental fatigue.

Also, to be taken in to account is the fact that as work sometimes dwindles down and anxiety sweeps in presenteeism (working in the face of illness and other factors that warrant a break) contribute even more to a case of mental fatigue and anxiety.


Freelancing is growing in modern day society and still is largely invisible. Most work alone and have no structured monitoring structures to evaluate their fatigue level and help them to work hard, enhance productivity and avoid mental fatigue. An early independent alert system could provide them with the needed forewarning and resting period that can make the difference in avoiding stronger symptoms of mental fatigue.