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3 Freelancers on How They Combat the Winter Blues (Pt. 2)

by Nathalie Peña

You may have noticed that this is part two of an article that claimed to have advice from three freelance writers, but we can never have enough tips. I was lucky enough to connect with six freelance writers who inspire me with their creative, authentic, and heartwarming content. So let’s continue on with the pointers for you creative freelancers in need during this sometimes difficult season. Let’s see what the likes of Vivian Nuñez, Shelcy Joseph, and Carrie Carrollo have to say about what helps them get sh*t done.

Vivian Nuñez

Vivian Nuñez is a writer and content creator focused on mental health, grief ,and wellness. She is the founder of toodamyoung.com. You can find her on IG @vivnunez and hosting the podcast, What Happened After? 

How does the winter season affect your motivation to work on writing content? The places I need to be in to write or create shift dramatically as the seasons change. I’m really attracted to natural light, so in the winter it’s important that I am by windows even if it means working under piles of blankets. Which is honestly, not the worst way to write about wellness and self-care. 

Is there any inner dialogue you repeat to yourself to get out of a funk like the winter blues and into the work mindset? Talking back to my anxiety has changed the way I relate to my anxiety. Before I felt like it was there to dominate me and that talking back was pointless, turns out the more I’ve learned to grow confident in my own voice the easier it’s been to walk through harder seasons. Whenever I get into a funk, I turn to that voice and try my best to remind myself that no matter the funk, my skillset is still my skillset and that as long as I do one thing at a time I can still do things. I may not have the stamina to do all the things I would do on a regular day, but it doesn’t mean that I have failed. I have to just adjust the ruler I’m measuring myself up against by being honest. 

Does your work routine change when transitioning into the winter season? How so? I turn to coziness in huge ways during the colder months. New York winters are rough so hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop just doesn’t feel as good. I work a lot more from home when it’s cold and switch back to my favorite coffee shops or coworking spaces once I can walk outside with my coat open and not freeze. 

Does the winter season make it harder for you to think outside the box when brainstorming writing content? How do you combat that?Since I work a lot more from home during the winter, I try my best to make time for at least one thing outside every day, even if it’s just a walk to the store. My depression is triggered by being inside too much and feeling like there’s no way out – I learned this the hard way by having one too many days with no walks. I add in that outside time the way I would do with any other meeting in my work week. The key for me is to respect that empty time doesn’t just mean time that can only be filled by someone else, it is also time that I can fill with what I need and want. 

What are some tips you have for others that are tackling their freelance gigs during a time when many face seasonal depression? If your mental health is triggered by the change in seasons, try to take some time to figure out how exactly you shift the most and what it is you’re missing. If it’s the longer days that you’re missing, for instance, try to find a way to add more natural light or succulents into your home so that they remind you of life and nature. If what you’re missing is a work-life balance because there are less friend outings in the winter to help you destress, try planning an indoor activity that will bring your people together. Not everything can be solved with a self-care hack though, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on your triggers, your symptoms, and whether you need help from a professional in figuring out some better strategies for you. 

Do you have a self-care ritual before or after a writing session during the winter? I actually never had a ritual but I’m trying to be kinder to myself this year. I’ve picked up yoga again and have been trying to practice it every morning before I dive into writing. I’m still working on a nighttime routine that will help me unwind. 

Is there anything else other freelance writers should know about the solopreneur life during the winter season? Try to find the good parts in the colder season that are so unique to it and that you’ll miss come spring. It’s those little things that help remind you that you do have control over some things and that your skillset can prosper no matter the season. 

Shelcy Joseph

Shelcy Joseph is a writer, digital marketer, and fashion and lifestyle influencer. On any given day, she is pursuing these creative interests, and in her free time, she is either exploring a new place, discovering new restaurants and bars, or cooking a new recipe.

How does the winter season affect your motivation to work on writing content? It actually pushes me to write more because I’m less tempted to go outside when it’s cold and more inclined to entertain myself at home. 

Is there any inner dialogue you repeat to yourself to get out of a funk like the winter blues and into the work mindset?  I don’t have a particular catchphrase, but I tend to remind myself of my end-goals (literally visualize them in my mind) and try to stay disciplined with a to-do list and some visual post-its on my desk. 

Does your work routine change when transitioning into the winter season? How so? Yes, I tend to wake up later during the winter (probably due to daylight savings), so I usually stay up longer too. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I tend to be more productive in the morning, so waking up at the usual 6:15 is a challenge. 

Does the winter season make it harder for you to think outside the box when brainstorming writing content? How do you combat that?In some ways, it is the case for me, but in some ways, it’s not. I love a good weekend spent in nature because it energizes my body and sparks my creativity. But I also find inspiration when I hide at a museum or a bookstore because it’s too cold outside. 

What are some tips you have for others that are tackling their freelance gigs during a time when many face seasonal depression?I’ve found that exercising and drinking a lot of water helps keep me awake during colder days, when the temptation is to stay in bed. I do a simple stretch and cardio routine in the morning before showering, put on office clothes (not loungewear), then sit in front of my desk to work. It sounds simple, but these small things put me in a work mindset, which is especially important when you work from home. 

Do you have a self-care ritual before and/or after a writing session during the winter? I’m not sure it’s a ritual, but I usually read every morning and before bed, which tends to stimulate my writing. 

Is there anything else other freelance writers should know about the solopreneur life during the winter season? Don’t try to do it alone. Create accountability with like-minded friends to keep each other motivated and responsible for their actions. I also joined a few clubs where I’m surrounded by other freelancers/entrepreneurs, and I feed off their energy.

Carrie Carrollo

Carrie is a freelance writer, YouTuber, and interior design student based in New York City.

How does the winter season affect your motivation to work on writing content? In winter time, it’s holiday time and when things are really busy. When you have a lot going on in your schedule and a lot on your mind, it can be more difficult to feel really focused, feel like you have fresh ideas, or you’re feeling too much pressure that you have to get all this stuff done while having a crazy schedule. 

Is there any inner dialogue you repeat to yourself to get out of a funk like the winter blues and into the work mindset? I just always know that the work has to get done, I’m pretty good at operating in that way. Before New Years, I was super busy and had a lot of work and sometimes it was harder to get motivated, but I knew that I would be able to have a clean break especially being a freelancer when I’m in charge of my own schedule. I knew what was on my plate, when it would slow down, and when I would be on vacation. I think having a clear end date was motivational and money is motivational too let’s be honest. 

Does your work routine change when transitioning into the winter season? How so? My routine has been letting myself wake up when my body felt like it needed to and, depending on how I was feeling I would get the work done that was more mundane like curating products for a shopping roundup. I feel like when my brain was not necessarily as “on” it was easier to do the more mindless stuff. Then I would try and schedule time in the middle of the day to take a break; I would figure out when I was going to get out of the house, or go to a coffee shop, and make sure I was getting to the gym to work out. Typically I feel more motivated at night so I try to plan my schedule around the times I work best. 

Does the winter season make it harder for you to think outside the box when brainstorming writing content? How do you combat that? I definitely would say that being outside is super important to me and being able to leave the house to physically get moving. The winter can definitely affect that and it is a hard thing to beat. Luckily our weather is kind of crazy and some days it’s really warm so I’ve really made sure, especially since I’ve been freelancing, to take advantage of those times. Sometimes I’ll walk 30 blocks to go somewhere because it’s just nice to be outside. 

What are some tips you have for others that are tackling their freelance gigs during a time when many face seasonal depression? I think it’s really important to surround yourself with a good network of people who are doing similar things. For me, it’s been meeting up with a lot of people who are also freelancers or are familiar with editorial. Also, meeting with my friends to talk it out if I am feeling a certain type of way. I think especially as a freelancer when you’re on your own, it’s really easy to get in your head and then spiral from there and get anxious or sad. I think letting someone know how you’re feeling so that you can just check in or get advice is really helpful. Also, I’m a big supporter of therapy and mental health so I do that every week. But similar to my last point, it can also come with a form of friends, family, and community support. But I think if you have access to professional mental health resources, it’s something that’s very valuable. 

Do you have a self-care ritual before or after a writing session during the winter? This is actually something that my therapist recommended me to do: Every day, schedule in time where I’m not doing anything or not thinking about work. For me, I love to watch YouTube videos and hang out and lately I started watching Tik Toks so I give myself time to do that kind of stuff and not think about other things. 

Is there anything else other freelance writers should know about the solopreneur life during the winter season? It’s definitely not something that’s for everyone. I think it’s really important to identify that in yourself, whether that’s knowing your work style, or what your mental health usually looks like, or how you’re affected by different things like seasonal factors. This is something that I’m definitely learning as I go too, is that there are very definite times where you have a lull or a tide and I think at first that could be scary and also unmotivating. You just have to learn to push through that. I think especially in the media, even when I was full time, it’s always slower around the winter time so I think freelance heightens that. The money that you’re making is so dependant on if you’re working or not working so it’s even more stressful the fact that it is slower. But I just have to remember that it is slow in publications, businesses, and brands too so it’s all reflective and related. 

Images via Carrie, Vivian, and Shelcy

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