To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (, ICS has collated a list of ‘top tips’ that can help you, as a contractor, manage your stress levels.

It goes without saying, becoming a contractor is without doubt a stressful time.  You are taking a leap into the unknown.  The routine monthly payslip hitting your bank account at the end of every month is no more, and you’re now relying on your skills and networking.

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However, becoming a contractor should by no means be recognised as a negative.  As studies report, contractors/freelancers that make the switch are on average happier than permanent workers.  Factors such as a better life balance, ability to turn down work and typically a higher take home pay are just a few of the benefits to temporary work.

ICS have reviewed the top stress-busting tips available and listed the most contractor-specific below:

1. If possible, avoid avoid avoid.

Seems obvious, however it’s often overlooked.  If you are in a position whereby, a certain client, activity or even commute is causing you stress, then make a change. We recommend that if these are within your control, and you are able to turn a negative into a positive then do it.  An example is, if you are working on behalf of a client, and the commute is too much. Look for alternative route of transport or simply, be honest. 

2. Get Active

Being active and working out won’t completely remove your stress, however, it will reduce it somewhat. Going to the gym, yoga or meditation are proven factors to eliminate stress. As a contractor, you will typically be time-poor, so getting up earlier and hitting the gym before work could be the best solution.

3. Zen Your Workspace

An unorganised and cluttered desk will not help you feel calm whilst at work. Take some time out to give your workspace order. Be strict and remove anything that you no longer need. Store everything away except for your core items (computer, mobile, pen and paper) in drawers or other areas (which keep them out of sight).  Top Tip: Before you leave at the end of the day, take a few minutes to make sure everything on your desk is in order.  So when you return to work you’ll feel more inspired for the day ahead.

4. Keep hydrated – Water & Tea

Keeping hydrated is essential.  If you fail to remain hydrated, you will be more susceptible to experiencing symptoms such as fatigue and headaches. If you start to suffer from anxiety, dehydration may be the cause.   However, we understand how easy it is to forget to drink whilst you’re in the middle of a project.  If you don’t have time to drink, perhaps pre-pack some fruit/veg. Fruits like watermelon are 92% water and cucumber which is 95%.

5. Think positive

It’s very easy to slip into a spiral and just have negative thoughts when you feel stressed and wound up. You’re not on your own, we can all recall a situation whereby the smallest issue has tipped us over the edge when we were already overwhelmed by other things.  With effort, you should try and look past it and see it from the other side.   Swap your self-defeating internal script for a positive one.

How do you manage your stress as a contractor? What process/tips do you have? We’d love to hear.  Get involved on twitter by tweeting @icscontractor and sharing your tips.