The Burnout Is Real- How the Side Hustle is Impacting Our Health & Relationships

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

To make it in the world, one must be willing to hustle. Success is born from hard work and determination, but even the most tireless efforts do not always produce the desired result. For many in society, success is defined as keeping a roof over one’s head, providing for one’s family and securing a future for the next generation. But to pursue the American Dream, time and energy must be sacrificed in the form of side hustles, the work we take on in those few precious hours of the day after our scheduled “nine to five” ends. In this mindset, we are often spread too thin, trying to accomplish too much. As society faces a potential cost-of-living crisis, it’s no secret why people are always hustling – It’s a matter of survival. But the threat of burnout is looming.

The concept of the side hustle is not a new idea, and as we navigate a post-pandemic world, these part time jobs are more prevalent than ever. Side hustles are not only a source of extra income- they can be a way to explore passions and hobbies or gain valuable work experience. But what is the price of this hustle? To have the opportunity to pursue one’s passion and turn it into profit is part of what it means to be living the American Dream, but for many, it is just another job taken out of desperation to make ends meet. Either way, the side hustle takes up hours in the day one might normally devote to relaxing after a long day of work, spending time with family or even pursuing avenues of higher education in order to better one’s circumstances. All of this can then become a drain on our time, manifesting in a decline in our health.

Burnout, the physical or mental collapse caused by workplace stress, is recognized as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization. It is characterized by feelings of exhaustion, negativity or mental distance and a general decrease in productivity. While not classified as a medical condition, burnout does in fact follow a set of stages that track the overall degradation of health and wellness, where pushing ourselves to work harder can result in neglecting our own personal needs. This in turn can lead to withdrawal from friends and family, behavioral changes and depression.

In recent years, there has been a palpable shift in the perception of mental health. More people are willing to share their stories of their own mental health challenges leading more companies to initiate changes to their business models in order prioritize the emotional and mental wellbeing of their employees. From implementing hybrid models that allow employees to work from home on a more flexible schedule to providing access to counseling and other resources, businesses are addressing the stigma of mental health as a personal issue and recognizing their own role in the high turnover rates and decreased productivity of their employees along with other key performance indicators.

If you are starting to feel like a burnout is on the way, there are ways to help mitigate the effects. When possible, restructure your workday to include regular breaks, even if its five minutes to take some deep breaths or even scroll social media. Setting boundaries with your time, especially when it comes to being on or off the clock, is instrumental in staving off burnout and improving overall mental health. Beyond the workplace, fostering hobbies and doing activities that bring you joy is a great way to inject a little boost into your free time. Finding these pockets of joy can help you feel refreshed, recharged and ready to embrace another work week.

Exercise, a balanced diet and a regular sleep schedule can make a big difference in fighting burnout, but so can hanging with our favorite furry companions! We know that pets can help combat feelings of stress and depression, so why not burnout as well? Pets can provide structure and routine, which can work wonders to help calm the chaos of multiple jobs and responsibilities vying for our attention. Animals are great at reading emotion, thanks to their heightened senses that allow them to pick up on changes in our hormones as well as our vocalizations, and many are very adept at knowing when their human needs a little extra comfort and support.

Burnout is a very real and common phenomenon that more people experience than you might think. If you feel like you might be experiencing the symptoms of burnout, it is not too late to switch up your routine and reframe your mindset to become happier and healthier. Talking with a doctor or licensed therapist to create the best plan for your lifestyle is another great method for tackling the feelings associated with burnout in a safe and productive way. And when in doubt, a little extra cuddle with your pet never hurts!

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