Busyresting: How Using Your Side Hustle for Rest Leads to Burnout

If multitasking were an Olympic sport, women would all win the gold medals. As dynamic and multi-passionate Everygirls, juggling multiple things comes second-nature to us. Whether we’re painting our nails while watching the news, sending off emails at breakfast, or even simply driving while listening to a podcast — this kind of multitasking helps us do more (or at least makes us feel like we are).  

However, multitasking divides our attention and can be a hindrance to completing tasks well — or at all — especially when you multitask between work and rest. In my life, combining something inherently “productive” with something “restful” has caused me to suffer from low-quality work and rest that doesn’t bring me energy. I call this combination “busyresting” — and it’s a sneaky SOB. When I busyrest, I look like I’m resting, and I might even feel like I’m resting, but I am not recharging. I am cheating myself by attempting to devote energy to both productivity and rest. I do it a lot — and you probably do too. For me, busyresting is checking emails from bed, cleaning the house in my pajamas, or watching Netflix while folding laundry. It might be comfortable, yes, but it is no substitute for genuine rest. I am still trying to complete a mental to-do list and rest is not worth skimping on. 

The biggest way that busyresting has manifested in my life is when I used my side hustle as a form of rest. About two years ago, I developed a routine where I would come home from work or class each day, get into my pajamas, make a cup of tea, and spend the rest of the night blogging. Blogging became the only leisure activity I would do during the week. Instead of unwinding by reading for fun or watching a movie, I would write posts, do web design, email advertisers, and create sponsored content. After a while, this brought me to a place of overwhelming dread surrounding my website. I had gotten to the point where clicking “start new draft” became the last thing that I wanted to do. Something was off — with me and with my process. 

This hit me hard during a girls’ trip with my best friends. We went to Florida for the week with no agenda — just enjoying the beach, eating good food, and catching up. On the first day, we were laying in a line of lounge chairs by the water. My friends were listening to music, napping, and sunbathing without hesitation. And there I was writing a blog post on my phone. I was literally on the beach, trying to think of a way to multitask SUNBATHING. I became upset with myself and wondered why I couldn’t just give in to rest like my friends.

I spent the rest of the trip “off” from my blog. When I finally felt rested at the end of the week, I realized just how exhausted I had been before. I let the pressure of producing more content, creating more, and being constantly productive rob me of authentic restoration and the belief that I deserved better. It’s no wonder why I felt burnt out — I sacrificed self-care at the altar of “hustling.”

I really enjoy blogging — and you probably enjoy your side hustle, too. I think we all get a rare type of energy from the process, and it can improve our capabilities in other areas of life. But benefits aside, your side hustle deserves the distinction of being treated as work. I am learning the hard truth that work you enjoy is indeed still work — and you need time “off” from it. I think one of the reasons I struggle with this is that the trendy term “side hustle” seems counterintuitive to resting. I mean, it literally says the word hustle in the name. But be assured that no one is allowed to define how you “hustle.” “Hustling” doesn’t have to mean living from a place of fear of falling behind if you take a break. If you let it, genuine rest can breathe life into your side business, blog, Etsy shop, or whatever it may be. 

What has worked for me is finding a rhythm between the hustle and the stillness. Give yourself “hours” as you would have in a 9-5, and try to avoid working overtime as much as you can. Don’t race through your day with the hope of being able to relax if you get everything done. Instead, schedule small moments of self-care throughout your day — because, chances are, not everything will get done! Defining what types of rest are most effective for me has also played a big part in this process. In most cases, anything involving social media doesn’t do the trick. When we scroll through social, our brains are constantly analyzing, whether we realize it or not. True rest, for me, usually doesn’t involve a screen. Getting outside, taking in my surroundings, deep breathing, coffee with a friend (bonus points for a caffeine boost), and journaling are all ways of resting that have worked for me.

When you start finding daily stillness, it can be hard to silence the inner voice that tells you to keep working. Side-hustle culture — and our society in general — loves to multitask, work through lunch, and find new ways to be productive. Devoting time to fully resting can feel wrong and will definitely feel unnatural at first. Don’t be afraid to live in this feeling of resistance — it means there is true growth happening. Remember that on the other side of the resistance there is reinvigoration for you and for your work.

 

We want to know — what does genuine rest look like to you? And where do you find yourself busyresting?

 

  • It’s so easy to become one track minded about side hustles, isn’t it! I tend to get that way, pouring everything into them until I can barely stand to think about them anymore. It’s taken a lot of self discipline to get out of that habit.

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