Artist or Freelancer Advice

Stress and Involuntary Self Harm Caused by Work: How to Manage Both

Stress & Involuntary Self Harm

Stress: Involuntary self harm, freelancing or working online.

Sometimes working a stressful job can get the best of you.

This post is about stress while freelancing. The content was originally cut out from:

Recently in the last few months I had seriously considered completely stopping freelancing in favor of a more reliable steady source of income. Quitting freelancing has been something on my mind for 3 or more years, but never came so close to implementing.

Stress and Involuntary Self Harm Caused by Work

After much debate with my partner, long term clients and family:
Instead of quitting I made some changes to the type of projects I’m willing to take on, regardless of the job well drying up for almost 3 months straight.

If you’re interested in hearing why and how I started freelancing in the first place leave me a comment or message!

So.. anyway! Self harm!

Similar to self harm or mutilation that can be found in caged animals, humans can also resort to harming themselves when they feel like they are trapped.

How to Manage Stress and Involuntary Self Harm

Based on personal experience the best and most effective way of dealing with involuntary self harm caused by stress is to get rid of the stress!

However, sometimes getting rid of the stressful situation is not an option so this list is for desperate times.

*This should not be taken as professional medical advice.

In this case, self harm is a stress coping mechanism.
Forcibly stopping the involuntary self harm may start another type of involuntary self harm.

Safer alternatives to self harm:

  • Rocking back and forth.
  • Pacing.
  • Bouncing softly.
  • Fidgeting.
  • Shaking your legs.

If you realize when you start to hurt yourself try to switch to a movement that doesn’t cause physical damage.

If you live with someone while dealing with a lot of work stress, they are undoubtedly worried about your stress levels.
When asked, calmly try to take the time to explain why you do what you are doing, and that it isn’t intentional.

How to immediately to stop or lessen involuntary self harm caused by work related stress:

  • Pulling out your hair:
  • Cut your hair so short it’s not possible to grab it.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Scratching yourself:
  • Always cut your nails as short as possible without harming yourself.
  • Wear tight full body clothing that’s difficult to lift. *Wear a face mask so you don’t scratch your face.
  • Biting your hands:
  • Make an effort to put your hands in your pockets or on your lap. (If you realize you’ve started biting yourself remember to keep putting your hands elsewhere.)
  • Clenching your fists:
  • Lay your hands flat on your lap or sides.
  • Curling your toes:
  • Plant your feet flat on the ground.
  • If you start curling your toes briefly stretch them the other direction.
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth:
  • Try to keep your jaw (not mouth) slightly open all of the time.
  • Cutting yourself:
  • Keep sharp objects and items out of reach at all times.

Note: This is for involuntary self harm, if you are purposely planning on harming or killing yourself it is time to reach out to a professional for help.
Wikipedia for suicide crisis lines:

Running a search for help may bring up better results for immediate help based on your country.


Remember you are an individual! What makes you calm is different from other people.

You don’t have to be a stereotypical version of yourself enjoying generic ‘calming’ things to please others.

It’s up to you what puts a smile on your face.

Be sure to make time to do the things you enjoy.

For example I enjoy photography, particularly because it gets me out of the house & away from stress causing work every once in a while.

Butterfly! (Photo by Ameshin)
Butterfly (Photo by Ameshin)

This covers the fresh air, time off and sunshine part of stress management.
I make it a point to go out at least once a month regardless of work circumstances.

Make an effort to do something that will make you truly calm.


Freelancing can be rough…. so… pay your person ethically, don’t make empty promises and just have some good ol’ fashioned common sense.

Oh.. and uh.. Hire me! I’m so awesome I’ll keep working for you while literally tearing myself apart bit by bit. Joy! (Seriously, I’m kidding!)

Comment Below