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How to Manage Your Mental Health While Side Hustling

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Last Updated on August 29, 2022 by Daniella

Side hustles can be a great source of extra income to help you fund your goals, but they do come with their caveats. Without taking care of yourself, you can experience burnout from your side hustles.

Side hustle burnout is when you’re unable to continue your side hustle because your mental health cannot sustain it anymore.

No one wants that to happen, even though it can be hard to avoid.

So, what can you do to prevent it?

Stay Organized to Manage Your Mental Health

Staying organized is the biggest hack I have for limiting mental stress. When you’re organized you know exactly what’s happening in your side hustle. Running a side hustle is very similar to running a small business. That’s because your side hustle is a business and you’ll have to get use to running it like one.

At the beginning, this can be difficult to wrap your head around. You’ll need systems in place to ensure that you’re doing things correctly.

Setting aside money for taxes, paying contractors, preparing inventory, schmoozing with clients — all of these things require you to have systems in place.

Staying organized is easier said than done, especially if you struggle with ADHD, bipolar, or are neurodivergent. People can tell us all day to “stay organized” and it means nothing to us. “One size fits all” type of solutions for organization also never tend to help us much.

Something that helped me stay organized when starting out was keeping all of my documents in one place like Google Drive and setting up calendar reminders for things like tax payments, sending invoices, and sending invoice reminders. I even set calendar reminders to get up and take a break to do something I enjoy like a midday run.

I also try to automate as much as I can to make sure I don’t add additional stress to my work days because those extra manual business admin tasks can sometimes send me into a head spin. Using various tools to keep my business organized were a huge help.

Know That You Aren’t an “Imposter”

Thinking that we are “imposters” in our side hustles can really mess with our mental health. It can make us second guess ourselves, hold ourselves back, and can even make us give up on our side businesses altogether. 

I hate the term “Imposter Syndrome“. I think it’s a complete lie.

None of us are imposters. If you like to write and are just getting started as a freelance writer, guess what — you’re a writer. You don’t have to be a novelist to be considered a writer. You don’t even have to be getting paid as a writer to be a writer.

All you actually have to do to be a writer, is write. I don’t care what you write, you’re a writer.

The term “imposter syndrome” is a term that we use to describe something completely different than what an imposter actually is. What is actually happening when we say we “have imposter syndrome” is us describing our uncomfortability in trying to fit into society in a new way that isn’t the “status quo”. Or better put — society’s uncomfortability with us knowing our own power. By saying that we are “imposters” is another way for us to sell ourselves short, yet again.

You’re not an imposter. You are enough.

You are more than enough. You’re a force to be reckoned with.

Show them what you’ve got. 

Reduce Financial Stress by Saving an Emergency Fund & Using Extra Income to Pay Down Debt

If you find yourself burdened by constant financial stress in your side hustle, start setting up some systems of protection like an emergency fund. You can even set up an emergency fund for your personal finances and another emergency fund for your side business finances.

If you have debt that you’re working to pay down with your side hustle and are stressed that you can’t seem to pay it down as quickly as you’d like, keep going. Debt will take a long time to chip away at but what’s important to remember is you’re doing your best and in time, it will all pay off.

I loved gamifying my own debt payoff with color in trackers to make it fun and helped me feel better to remind myself I was at least on track. You can even use my own debt payoff color in trackers.

Create Strong Boundaries to Avoid Burnout

Creating strong boundaries to avoid burnout is the number one thing you can do to help your side hustle thrive. Boundaries keep you from being overwhelmed with your side hustle.

Overwhelm from side hustles can come from all angles, even remote side hustles too. You can take on too many clients, not be organized enough with your work, or try to grow too quickly.

Having boundaries within yourself will help you from stumbling into these areas

Overwhelm can also come from external pressures. You have a million things to do and not enough time to do it in. You work too hard on your side hustle. You say yes to everything.

Boundaries will protect you from these types of pitfalls.

How to Set Good Boundaries

  1. Learn to say no. No is the key to establishing boundaries. And “No.” is a complete sentence but that doesn’t mean it has to be. You can say things like “unfortunately I don’t have the capacity for this” or “thanks for the offer but I can’t do that right now”. Learning these simple phrases will take you a long way in your side hustle journey.
  2. Practice. Practice your boundaries with people who will respect them. Start by saying no to small things and then leveraging up to larger “no’s”. It’s easy to say you don’t want coffee this morning. It’s harder to say no to low-paying work when you’re short on cash.
  3. Celebrate when you set boundaries. When I first started setting boundaries with my side hustle, I was terrible with it. Horrible, no good, super bad. But I started sending my friend a text when I would set them. “Look what I did,” I’d say. And we’d celebrate. This helped me rewrite my brain into thinking boundaries were good and needed. Now I have no problem setting them.

Practice Self-Care to Protect Your Mental Health

Self-care is huge when you’re side hustling to protect your mental health. We often think of self-care as spoiling ourselves, but it’s so much more than that. Self-care is ensuring that your basic needs are met. Those basic needs have a pervasive foundation to how we’re feeling about ourselves.

If you’re not brushing your teeth and washing your face, you’re not going to feel good about side hustles. If you have meds, you need to be taking them. Have regular doctors appointments? Go to them. All these small things add up to make a huge difference.

Sometimes, basic care isn’t enough. You might need to pick up a meditative practice – like yoga – or something more aerobic – like kickboxing or running (my preferred stress reliever).

And even further, consider therapy to help manage your mental health if it gets really rough. Talkspace is this amazing site where you can get matched to an online therapist for much cheaper than seeing a therapist in person (and more convenient). Plus, you’ll get $100 off when using my link. There’s nothing shameful about therapy. In fact, I’ve been in and out of therapy for a decade and I know and love myself more because of it.

The bottom line is this: taking care of yourself is taking care of the business. You can’t forgo the first and master the second. 

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