How to find a side hustle that feels like self-care

By now you’ve probably heard the term “gig economy” being thrown around. According to Forbes, the term actually means that over a third of U.S. employees work as freelancers, and a hefty number of those freelancers have additional side gigs, aka “side hustles.” Everyone can probably agree that juggling two or more jobs is exhausting, and potentially a logistical nightmare. But if you can find a side hustle that feels like self-care, it can help you to chip away at that student debt and maintain your sanity.

I personally have around three or four jobs depending on your definition of the word, and that’s because I view one of my gigs as a completely optional one that benefits my soul in addition to benefitting my bank account. That’s dog-walking, which I do through an app called Rover that’s a typical “share economy” service, like Uber; Wag is another similar dog-walking app. Basically, you get to choose the dog-walking opportunities you pick up based on your own schedule. As Medium’s Buffer Stories revealed, 43% of over 1,900 remote workers listed their flexible schedule as the greatest benefit to remote working, so if you’re a freelancer, you may as well take advantage of scheduling things your way.

Main point being: why not use that time to make a little extra dough and fill your soul with something you love doing as well?

So here’s how you find your self-care side gig.

A side hustle that feels like self-care doesn’t just mean those elusive jobs like “hot tubologist” that you sometimes hear about. In fact, I believe that everyone can probably find a way to monetize an activity that benefits themselves. That’s not to say you should spend every minute of your spare time earning money—that would be a full-on nightmare. But if you’re looking for a way to earn some extra dough, you can definitely find something that feels more like f-u-n than it does a j-o-b. You just have to figure out what you’re looking for.

First: take an inventory of your life and find out what’s missing.

You can literally make a list of what you think you need more of in your life to have more balance, like a creative outlet, more exercise, or time in nature. The key word is balance, because you don’t want your self-care side gig to feel like more of the same old work you’re doing the rest of the week. For me, I felt like I needed to spend more time outside (because I work at home), and I needed to spend more time with dogs (because duh).

Dog walking became the perfect answer for me, but maybe you already spend most of your day running around outside in a childcare job and you’d rather do something quiet at home, like knitting and selling your goods on Etsy. Or maybe you find your remote job too isolating and you feel like you need a side gig that allows you to talk to people more often. Something like babysitting could be good for you.

Next: think about your special skills.

One of the greatest benefits of adding a self-care-focused side gig to your schedule is that it creates a greater incentive to do the things you love. For me, that meant the two things I listed before: spending time outside and with animals. But I’ve considered taking on a few other side gigs, like tarot card reading and knitting accessories for others.

After you figure out what’s missing from your life, make a whole different list of what you might like to do more of. It doesn’t have to relate to the first list you made at all—just figure out what makes you feel happy. Think of things like running, dancing, baking, crafting or, like me, hanging with pups.

As you probably guessed, the next step involves piecing your two lists together.

It may be obvious what to choose as your side hustle. Like, say you need more of a creative outlet in your life and you really love drawing. You can totally become an illustrator, like Sophia Chang, and share your work on Instagram. Or, say, you realize that you want to spend more time doing yoga and helping others. Well, why not become a part-time yoga instructor?

If your two lists don’t necessarily fit together, though, try getting creative to make them work. For instance, say you want to spend more time doing physical activities but you don’t want to be a workout instructor or a dog walker. What about becoming a Postmates delivery person? It may not sound fun, but riding your bike around on a delivery run could definitely make you feel good on an otherwise inactive day.

Finding a side hustle that feels like self-care isn’t necessarily easy—starting your own online business (like becoming an illustrator or an Etsy seller) is hard work. It takes a ton of time and dedication to get your business off the ground, and it might not end up making you much money. That’s not what we’re suggesting you do—that will add stress to your life that you probably don’t need. So when you’re thinking about your potential side gig, consider how much time you actually want to invest and compare that to how the work will make you feel.

If you follow your passion, your side hustle just might become your main career.

I’m definitely open to becoming a full-time puppy cuddler, that’s for sure.

And what could be better than doing what you love and getting paid for it? You never know what could happen.

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