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5 reasons why side hustles can benefit your mental health

New data from Simple, an online banking company, shows that more American millennials have a side hustle than ever before, while Google has shown a significant uptick in side-hustle-related searches over the last two years. Though side hustles like freelancing, teaching, and driving for ride-share services have become popular ways to earn extra cash or indulge in your entrepreneurial spirit, these independent jobs also provide hustlers with a bunch of unexpected mental benefits. Scroll on for a handful of ways your hustle can help you stay happy and healthy.

1. Gain control

When you care deeply about your work, it can be frustrating when you aren’t able to call the shots or make an impact that leaves you feeling fulfilled. This might be especially true if you feel stunted in a toxic culture, are miserable as the result of a bad boss, or are stuck in a situation where you simply don’t have the freedom to do things the way you want to on the job. If you’re familiar with any of these struggles firsthand, you’ve probably found that having a personal passion project that’s totally your own can give you the decision-making powers you crave.

2. Grow personally and professionally

Professional learning opportunities are one of a job’s best perks, whether you have teammates who teach you new skills or enjoy access to books and classes through your company. Unfortunately, the information you need to know to do your job well might not always be of interest to you. Having a side hustle that challenges you in an area you’re genuinely interested in is exciting and can give you a sense of purpose. Reading up on nights and weekends or enrolling in digital courses you can take at your leisure will allow you to expand your skill set while fueling your passion.

3. Relieve stress

Doing something that makes you feel energized, proud, and confident is a solid way to combat work worries. Thankfully, there are a number of entrepreneurial endeavors that can provide this benefit. If you love car rides, signing up to drive for a company like Uber or Lyft might give you the opportunity to unwind by talking with passengers and listening to tunes. If you adore dogs and being outside, spending time with cute canines in nature as a dog walker could be the ticket. Or, if writing, designing, or crafting is your jam, you’re likely to find that dedicating time to your creative work brings you a much-needed mental break from day-job-related stress.

4. Cure boredom

Have you been in your current role or at your company for a long time? Do you love what you do but crave more variety? A side hustle can help you explore skills or talents that you enjoy but don’t get to use nearly enough. Keep things interesting by pursuing a side hustle that’s a complete departure from your usual work routine. For example, if you sit in front of a computer all day, try working in a boutique or helping out at events around town after hours; you’ll exercise different parts of your brain and, as a bonus, you’ll come back to your nine-to-five feeling refreshed.

5. Build new relationships

Your day job might introduce you to plenty of smart people in your industry, but exploring an entrepreneurial pursuit that’s different from your regular employment can help you make friends and contacts within a new community. Tap into these varied social circles by taking classes, attending local meetups or conferences, or volunteering at a festival to build meaningful relationships that leave you feeling connected, fulfilled, and happy.

This article first appeared on Brit + Co.

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