Have you taken on a side hustle to follow your passion and build the life you’ve been dreaming of? Good for you! You’ve made it past the biggest hurdle, getting started. That drive and determination will take you where you want to go.
On the flipside, working a full-time job while working your side hustle can often leave you drained and feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day. I hear you. I’ve been there too. With the amount we cram into our schedules it can be difficult to find time for yourself.
However, you can avoid side hustle burnout if you are as strategic with your “Me Time” as you are with your to-do lists.
Today’s post is all about avoiding side hustle burnout by learning to identify the signs of burnout, ways to recover from burnout, and most importantly finding time for yourself so you completely avoid burnout in the first place.
Now, I’m not going to start with any of that love what you do, avoid burnout by working on your passion, rectoric. You’ve nailed that part. What you need is a crash course in recognizing burnout symptoms, taking “Me Time” and practicing self care. Let’s dive in.
What Are the Signs of Burnout?
According to the folks over at Psychology Today, burnout is a chronic state of stress that can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and a feeling of a lack of accomplishment.
Here is a breakdown of what they had to say, including the main warning signs and red flags to watch for.
Physical and Emotional Exhaustion
- Chronic fatigue
At first chronic fatigue may present itself as a lack of energy or feeling tired, but as it progresses it turns into exhaustion. You may be completely void of energy and feel a sense of dread.
In the early stages of insomnia you may just find it difficult to go to sleep, but you eventually do. The biggest red flag of insomnia is exhaustion to the point that you can’t sleep on a regular basis.
- Forgetfulness/impaired concentration & attention
It’s normal to have moments of forgetness and the inability to focus. However, when things start to pile up and you’re unable to kick it into gear and get them done – this a sign that your concentration is impaired.
Cynicism and Detachment
- Loss of enjoyment
Even though we are super passionate about our side hustles, we all have those tasks that we don’t enjoy. However, if you find yourself constantly avoiding tasks that’s a sign that cynicism may be setting in.
While it is normal to have days where you feel like the glass is half empty instead of half full, if this becomes a common occurrence, it can be a red flag pessimism is taking root.
Closing the door on socializing when you’ve had a stressful day is also normal, but if you find yourself becoming angry at the mere suggestion, or completely avoiding social interaction altogether, take note.
Momentary lapses of enjoyment and the need to isolate oneself from time to time is not bad in and of itself, but if repeated often and left unchecked over time they can turn into disconnection from others.
Feelings of Ineffectiveness & a Lack of Accomplishment
- Apathy and hopelessness
We sometimes ask ourselves, “What’s the point? It doesn’t matter anyway” when approaching difficult tasks or something that we’ve been dreading, but feeling this way about everything is a sign of apathy.
- Increased irritability
If you start feeling irritable in your personal and work relationships because you feel like you are not able to do things as well as you once did, or that you’re becoming useless, this is a red flag.
- Lack of productivity and poor performance
It’s impossible to be productive when you’re in a state of chronic stress. This inevitably leads to incomplete projects and tasks and growing to-do list. Try to take notice if you are starting to become overwhelmed with the pile of work that faces you as this is a sign of burnout.
The main issue with burnout is that it’s not just something that you wake up one day and all of sudden have. It creeps up on us over time.
This is why it’s important to be aware of the warning signs and red flags mentioned above. Learning to notice the symptoms helps us take action and avoid burnout all together.
How to Recover From Burnout
Unfortunately, even when armed with this knowledge, burnout is sometimes unavoidable. When you find yourself in a state of burnout, or at the first signs of it, you want to nip it in the bud.
In another article from Psychology Today they offer some effective suggestions on how to recover.
1.) Make a list of your stressors
The first thing they recommend is making a list of all the situations in your current state of burnout that make you feel anxious, worried, and stressed.
Yes, they are suggesting that you make one more list, but listing out your biggest stressors helps you identify what your stressors are.
2.) Find a modification for each stressor
Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can modify your daily routine in a way that reduces each of the sources.
A very simple example is turning off the notifications on your phone or computer so you aren’t constantly bombarded with new email or social media notifications that distract you and cause you to lose focus multiple times a day.
3.) Say “No”
In order to recover from burnout, you need to allow yourself to say “no”. No to new commitments. No to new responsibilities. And, even to current commitments and responsibilities if needed.
4.) Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
Delegate as much as possible. Review your list of stressors and ask yourself, “How many of these things do I actually have to complete on my own?” Any that don’t need to be personally completed by you – delegate them!
5.) Don’t take on as much
Evaluate if you are trying to do too much? Spread big tasks and projects out and give yourself smaller, easier tasks in between.
Break larger projects into smaller chunks you can intermix with easier, simpler tasks in between. It is important to give yourself those breaks.
6.) Socialize with people who have nothing to do with your professional or side-hustle life
Interact and socialize with people who know absolutely nothing about your professional work or your side hustle. When you only socialize with people within your work and side hustle circle, it’s all too tempting for conversation to focus solely on your job and side hustle stresses.
Socializing outside these groups forces you to completely remove yourself from work and just have fun.
7.) It’s about the journey
When recovering from burnout, it’s important that you flip your mindset from focusing on the outcome to focusing on the journey. Allow yourself to acknowledge and appreciate the effort you’ve put in thus far and milestones that you’ve achieved along the way.
8.) Consider a support group
Lastly, consider seeking out others who are working on side hustles of their own. Join a FaceBook group, or find a local Meetup group.
Building a connection with others who are going through the same thing helps keep things in perspective and remind you that you are not alone.
Embrace “Me” Time
Keeping the many commitments of a full time job, side hustle, family and our personal relationships is a struggle. Usually so much so, that we put ourselves at the bottom of the list – or not on the list at all.
We often hear the term “Me Time” from new mothers attempting to balance and juggle motherhood. However, “Me Time” is not just for new moms. “Me Time” is for everyone.
Everyone should make time for themselves. It’s not a selfish act. In fact, it is vital to our health, wellness and self care.
Not only is it impossible to avoid burnout when running 100% full steam without taking time for yourself, it’s also impossible to truly be there for others when you’re completely physically and emotionally depleted.
Importance of Creating Time For Yourself
If you’re not completely convinced that time for yourself is important, go back and look at the burnout warning signs and red flags at the beginning of this post. Ask yourself, “How many of these things could be avoided if I took some time for myself to refresh, relax, and de-stress?”
Creating time for yourself is one of the best, and most effective strategies for avoiding burnout. Whether you are working on a side hustle or just juggling a busy schedule. Give yourself permission to practice self care.
Taking time for yourself gives your brain a chance to reboot which improves your concentration, gives you a chance to think deeply, and provides the needed space for your body and mind to rest.
It is also in these self care moments that innovative ideas and answers to some of your daily stressors and problems are born. Disconnecting can be a powerful way of connecting. Sounds counterintuitive but it’s true.
If you’re a mother and have concerns that taking time for yourself is taking time away from your child, remind yourself you are modeling what healthy behavior looks like for them.
Schedule Your “Me Time”
Most sources I’ve found suggest that you schedule your “Me Time”. They also reiterate the importance of scheduling an actual named “Me Time” activity, versus just a block of time called “Me Time”.
Make it count. Scheduling a named activity makes it much more likely that you’ll actually do it. You’re less likely to fill that time with running errands and the like.
Below I’ve pulled together some “Me Time” activity suggestions. It’s a mixture of my own ideas as well as some ideas from WebMDs A Woman’s Guide to Me Time.
If You Have 5-10 Minutes
Take a Pocket vacation
Coined by Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network, a pocket vacation is a short 5 minute walk outdoors which produces an immediate release of cortisol and stress relieving hormones.
A few minutes of intentional deep breathing exercises relaxes you and brings awareness to your body and grounds you.
Give the 4-7-8 technique a try, where you breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds, hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds, then exhale forcefully through the mouth making for 8 seconds with a “whoosh” sound.
Snuggle a Pet
If you are lucky enough to have a furry friend a simple 5 to 10 minutes of snuggling and stroking their fur can do wonders for your stress level.
Engage your senses
Take a moment to enjoy something that engages one of the 5 sense. Tea, coffee, music, smell the roses- literally. Self massage. These are just a few ideas that come to mind.
Spend a few minutes getting your body moving. Take a short walk, do a few minutes of yoga, HIIT, or stretch.
If You Have 15-30 Minutes
Read a chapter in book
I prefer to read a chapter in a good fiction novel, but they also suggest keeping a stash of magazines, crossword puzzles and other “short escapes” on hand.
Pick up a coloring book and some colored pencils or markers. Coloring for adults has many benefits such as relieving stress, increase your positivity, and improving your focus.
Do absolutely nothing
Follow the World Institute of Slowness’ advice and spend at least 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing to spark your creativity and recharge your batteries.
Visit a Park
A report from the National Parks and Recreation Association found that spending time in a park makes you feel socially supported, improves your mood and even helps you recover from illnesses more quickly.
If You Have 30-60 Minutes
Take a nap
The National Sleep Foundation states that a 30 minute nap can restore alertness, reduce accidents and mistakes, and even feel like a mini vacation. They recommend keeping it at 30 minutes to avoid grogginess that can follow.
Take a class
Take a weekly class such as dance or crafting. All forms of exercise are great for reducing stress, but a dance class adds an extra bit of fun. Also, studies have shown that crafting has many therapeutic benefits including improving mood and heading off cognitive decline.
Work on a hobby
Similar to crafting taking on a hobby can be a great me time option. A hobby can calm you, inspire you, bring out your creative side, and give your life more satisfaction.
Get a massage
This one doesn’t need much explanation. There are so many benefits ranging from reducing stress and muscle tension to relieving the stress associated with insomnia.
Try Practicing Mindfulness
While mindfulness may not immediately come to mind, I have personally found it to be a great stress reducing practice.
Pick a chore or household task that you do on a regular basis and instead of dreading it, try to flip your mindset regarding it.
For me it is cooking. I used to dread cooking. However, now – I’ve flipped the way I think about it. I try to honor each step of the cooking process and be fully in the moment. Almost like cooking meditation. This type of mindfulness can work the same for any mundane task.
To wrap up this post I’m going to leave you with a short checklist to avoid burnout and find time for yourself with a side hustle:
- Be as passionate about protecting your well being as your are about your side hustle.
- Learn the warning signs of burnout so you can take action before it has the opportunity to zap your energy and deplete you.
- Learn to recognize when burnout has set in so you can start saying no and take care of yourself.
- Take the time to identify your stressors and schedule in “Me Time” to counteract them before they even have a chance to sneak up and take hold.
- And remember, “You’ve got this!”.