The Healthy Hustle: How To Start A Side Business Without Burnout

A side hustle describes anything you do on the side of your traditional job that brings you a little extra money. From delivery driving to social media, or crafting to pet sitting, there are endless ways to make money while still having a steady income from your 9-5. But spreading yourself too thin can easily lead to burnout.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of exhaustion, physical or mental, that usually stems from intense stress. Working a traditional job while running a side business, plus all the other responsibilities and complexities in life is the perfect recipe for intense stress. Things like mental health struggles, parenting, financial hardship, studying, and pandemics can add an extra level of stress.

Life is a juggling act, and adding in extra stressors (such as a side business) means adding in another juggling ball. Trying not to drop any balls can lead to over-exerting yourself, both physically and mentally, and that can lead to burnout.

How To Know If You’re Getting Burnt Out

Burnout is accompanied by both physical and emotional symptoms. Physical symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Stomach aches
  • Frequent illness
  • Reduced performance
  • Outbursts

Emotional symptoms include a feeling of helplessness, lack of motivation, the feeling of self-doubt, feeling alone, feeling cynical, wanting to isolate yourself, and feeling unsatisfied no matter how much you do. Serious burnout can lead to angry or emotional outbursts and even using substances to cope.

Burnout isn’t only caused by working too hard. It can also be brought on by a lack of socializing or relaxation, a feeling of having no control, perfectionist tendencies, monotonous and unfulfilling tasks in your job, and a lack of recognition of your work.

If you’re experiencing depression or substance abuse due to burnout, it’s time to talk to a professional. But if you’re experiencing mild burnout, there are ways to regain balance in your life.

How To Avoid Burnout

Do something you love

Work becomes easier when you’re doing something you love and nourishing your creativity. Whether you’re doing graphic design, selling handmade candles and soaps, or running a gift shop filled with wholesale photo frames and stationery, make sure you’re passionate about what you’re doing. Setting attainable goals and envisioning what you want from your side hustle are great ways to stay motivated. But if your side gig is your passion, don’t get so caught up in turning it into a business that you lose sight of the love you have for it.

Allocate time to different aspects of your side hustle

Scheduling your life can really reduce the risk of burnout. Coming home from your day job and having to continue working can be draining, so plan to work on less overwhelming tasks at times when you don’t have the energy to dive headfirst into hard work. Compartmentalize different aspects of your business and work on one thing at a time.

Remember that it’s ok to say no. You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Set boundaries and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Schedule breaks and relaxation time

The great thing about running your own business is that you can choose your own hours. The downside is that you don’t have set hours, so it’s harder to separate work and life.

You may feel you have endless work to do and no time to take a break, but working nonstop is a recipe for disaster. Force yourself to take a break, whether that’s having dinner with friends, playing tennis, or sitting on your couch watching television. Take a few short breaks every day and make sure you’re allowing time to eat properly and get some exercise. Make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep too!

When you first start your side business, you’re in the “honeymoon phase”. You’re excited at the prospect of your side hustle, satisfied and proud of your success, and may even feel fueled by your busy schedule. Don’t be fooled! Once your side hustle becomes a regular part of your daily routine, the novelty wears off and burnout can set in. Pace yourself from the beginning and learn how to recognise the stages of burnout.

Reduce your mental load a little

When your head is filled with a million little reminders and deadlines and snippets of information, you don’t have room for much else. A simple way to combat this is to get all that clutter out of your head. Using a journal, or even the notes app on your phone, you can jot down anything important. It’s like backing up your hard drive and then wiping it clean.

Know how to identify burnout

To fix burnout, you need to know when you’re experiencing it. Familiarize yourself with the stages of burnout so you can catch it before it gets too serious.

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