The FreelanceMom’s Guide to Building Your Own Support Group

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Are you lonely? Many freelance moms face loneliness, but did you know that loneliness can have dire consequences?

According to a study conducted by the Journal of American Medical Association, loneliness can lead to sickness such as heart disease or even shorten your life. (Check out this story from Joyce Davis in the ReporterHerald, Lonely hearts can lead to stress.)  Melissa Healy, writing for The Los Angeles Times also reports that loneliness may keep you from sleeping at night.

Despite the fact that most freelancing moms have kids at home, they still need adult interaction. Being at home with kids makes us vulnerable to loneliness. The stresses of running a freelancing business can add to a feeling of isolation.

As a freelancing mom, it’s important to have a strong support group in place. You need people you can talk to about what’s going on in your life and in your business.

This guide will help you build your own support group.

Find Your Best Support Group

Finding the right emotional and social support can erase the lonely feelings.

You may think that using technology to stay in touch is enough to fight your feelings of loneliness, but technology may actually make you feel more alone. Stephen Marche explores this question in The Atlantic in his article, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Here are some suggestions for building the right support group for you:

  1. Be the one who stays in touch. Don’t wait for someone else to reach out to you. Pick up the telephone, make a call and invite a friend or acquaintance to lunch. You never know, they might be feeling lonely too.
  2. Don’t forget about family. Some of your best support can come from the people who know you best. Just because you’re a busy mom and freelancer, that’s no reason to lose touch with your extended family.
  3. Have a standing weekly lunch appointment. If you have a freelancing friend who lives nearby or know another mom with kids about the same age as yours, a weekly lunch appointment can provide much-needed adult interaction for both of you.
  4. Join a Mommy & Me playgroup or other activity with your child. Those playgroups aren’t just for the kids. Use the opportunity to socialize with other moms while the kids play.
  5. Go to Meetups and other professional get-togethers. Do you have a favorite blogger? Do you wish you could meet other freelancers who live in your area? A professional meeting (like a tradeshow) or a meetup lets you connect to others with similar interests.
  6. Take an evening class. Whether it’s to expand your professional expertise for your freelancing business, or just for fun–an evening class puts you in contact with other adults.
  7. Help others. Helping is a great way to make friends. Look around your neighborhood to see if someone nearby needs your help. Offer to buy groceries for an elderly neighbor, watch a friend’s pet while they are out of town, or even mow someone’s lawn when they are sick.
  8. Be a volunteer. Volunteering also provides you with a chance to get out of the house and meet others. Plus, a few organizations provide a nursery for the kids while you volunteer. Ask about childcare when you contact the organization.
  9. Take on a business partner. Working with a colleague can provide you with emotional support. At last, you will have someone to talk to who totally understands your freelancing business. Look for someone whose ethics and work style are compatible with yours.
  10. Stay busy. If you stay busy, it’s harder to focus on being alone. Don’t overextend yourself, but make sure that you have a variety of work and personal tasks to complete each day.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different. What helps one freelancing mom fight loneliness may not work for another.

If you already have a strong support group, but your loneliness just won’t go away you may actually be fighting depression. The Mayo Clinic site lists the symptoms of depression. If you suspect that you are depressed, seek the help of a mental health professional.

Where Do You Go from Here?

With young kids at home, adult interaction is vital to your well-being.

Use the list above to fight loneliness. Pick one or two ideas that suit your needs best and start building your own support group today. Schedule time to get out of the house and interact with other adults at least twice a week.

Have you found your own freelancing support group already? Tell us how you found it in the comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns FreelanceMom.com, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.

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