85% Of Freelancers Are Stressed, Unhealthy & Inactive, But Still Happy (Research)

Freelancing is the main (only) job for some freelancers, while others do it as a side job.

Both can lead to overworking with tight schedules, demanding clients, and the need to earn enough (extra) money. As a result, many are left to deal with the consequences of burnout, including health problems and not enough free time. One interesting statistic of the survey*, however, shows that only 48% of freelancers have health insurance.

Freelancing is the only job for around 84% of all surveyed participants. On the other hand, 16% undertake freelance jobs on the side of their day job.

Working As A Freelancer: Happiness & Stress

Working As A Freelancer Happiness & Stress

Over 59% feel extremely happy working as freelancers, while 33% feel moderately happy working as freelancers. On the other hand, 6% are only slightly happy working as freelancers.

Furthermore, another stat shows how happy freelancers are with their jobs. Under half of them (45%) answered they would take an offer to work full time for the same amount of money if they had flexible time, too.

On the contrary, only 15% say that working freelance is not stressful. On the other hand, over 65% say freelancing is moderately or extremely stressful.

The Effect Overworking Has On The Health

The Effect Overworking Has On The Health

Is Mental Health Affected?

Overworking has moderately affected the mental health of around 15% of freelancers. Around 29% answered that overworking slightly affected their mental health, while 15% saw an extreme effect of overworking on their mental health. Luckily for around 41% of participants, there is no effect of overworking on mental health.

Effect On Physical Health

Thirty-nine percent say there is no effect of overworking on their physical health (stomachache, headache, backache, and more). However, 29% saw a slight effect, while 15% are moderately affected by overworking in terms of physical health. Finally, 15% documented an extreme effect of overworking on their physical health.

Engaging In Physical Activity

With the effect of overworking on physical health, it is also important to know whether freelancers take time for self-care, such as working out, running, going to the gym, or other physical activity. Only 54% of polled freelancers engage in physical activity, be it every day or every other day.


Twenty-nine percent of the polled freelancers only sleep five to six hours a day, while 6% of them sleep for less than five hours. The majority of them (52%) sleep for seven to eight hours, and 13% of them find time to sleep longer than eight hours. To conclude, around 65% of them sleep for seven hours or longer, which is considered good for grownups for getting enough rest.

Is Work Taking Over The Life Of Freelancers?

Is Work Taking Over The Life

Around 51% of all the respondents stated that work is taking over their life, at least to some extent:

  • 17% think that work is taking over their life extremely
  • 22% also state that they do not have enough free time for hobbies, family, and friends
  • around 35% think they are overworking as freelancers

Since 17% say work is taking over their life extremely, it makes sense that 22% of surveyed freelancers also say they do not have enough free time.

Is Their Productivity Reduced?

Is Their Productivity Reduced

In case of overworking, we have asked freelancers whether their productivity gets reduced. For 50% of them, overworking does not affect productivity negatively. Likewise, 24% only see their productivity is slightly reduced due to overworking. However, 16% of surveyed freelancers state overworking has moderately reduced their productivity. Finally, 10% say their productivity is extremely reduced due to overworking.

How Long Is Their Working Day?

How Long Is Their Working Day

It seems like under one-fifth of freelancers are working at least 50 hours a week, if not more. Around 18% disclosed their working day is longer than 10 hours. For 22%, working days are between eight and 10 hours long. On the other hand, 29% work for under five hours a day. Finally, 31% work five to eight hours a day.

Weekends: Work vs Relaxation?

The majority of freelancers are never completely free from work on weekends. The survey found that 57% of freelancers sometimes work on weekends, while 25% always work on weekends. Moreover, 49% claim to sometimes take time off work, while 36% do so regularly.

Work Organization

Work Organization

Around 13% get new clients all the time, while 28% work with the same few clients all the time. On the other hand, most of them, i.e. 58%, always work with a few of the same clients, while attracting some new clients, too.

In the last year, 30% of the survey participants started freelance work. Moreover, 30% of them have been freelancing for more than 5 years.

Considering that 44% of freelancers work “when they feel like working”, it is not surprising that they feel happy with freelance work. Moreover, 25% say they work whenever they get a new client when asked if they work at the same time every day. Only 32% organize themselves to work at the same time every day.

*Survey Information

For this global online survey, OfficeNeedle polled 2690 freelancers. The participants identified as follows:
– female (55%)
– male (39%)
– other (6%)
We also asked them about their age with the breakdown as follows:
– 24 or younger ( 27.5%)
– 25 to 40 (50.7%)
– 41 to 56 (15.95)
– 57 to 66 ( 4.3%)
– 67 and older (1.4%)
The online survey was conducted between the 10th and the 24th of September 2021.


In short, freelancers are mostly happy with their working situation, despite being under stress, overworking, and being mostly physically inactive. As some other studies suggest, freelancers are often happy due to the freedom of choice and their independence. After all, this study also found that most of them have enough free time and that they manage to stay productive.

Mateja is a journalist with a Master’s degree. After graduating in 2019, she started writing copies for various websites before she joined the OfficeNeedle team in 2021. So far, she has built relationships with industry leaders and experts in the field that help her focus on writing useful tips for businesses. She enjoys writing informative pieces and doing research on businesses, as well as conducting surveys. She hopes her tips and other types of posts can help you kickstart your own business and stay alert to better adapt to any changes in the field.