Self-care 2021: listen to the clues your body is giving you and don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion
The massage business can offer up some big health challenges if you don’t decide to do something about them early on. I have been in this business for over 20 years, and I have had to learn the hard way the importance of making time for myself so that I can be in optimal shape physically, mentally and emotionally in order to provide the best services to my clients.
So, let me start by asking you this question: Can anything run on empty? I mean seriously, if you see your car’s gas light blinking and blaring at you, telling you that the tank is too low to get to your next destination, what do you do?
Hopefully you pull over to the nearest gas station and fill that baby up! You don’t put the pedal to the metal and just hope you make it.
Why don’t we do the same when it comes to the vehicle—our body—that we use every day to accomplish so many important things and take care of so many special people?
The main reason we don’t take control of the wheel of our lives and businesses is because we forget to take time out to do a self-check. You must do a diagnostic of the components of your life to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
What warning signals has your body been giving you lately? Have you been feeling tired? Stressed? What are the people around you saying? Do they express to you that you work too much or that you always look tired or drained? How about you? What things have you found yourself thinking in the back of your mind concerning your overall happiness? These are all clues to where you need to make some changes for the better in your life.
As I said before, I wasn’t always so mindful of me. The stress of work and life had started to take a toll on me, and I felt myself being exhausted and moody all the time. Ultimately, my lack of self-care caught up with me, and my health suffered even as I was becoming increasingly aware of it—but I didn’t quite know what to do about it.
It wasn’t until I started to work as a massage therapist with Wounded Warriors, an organization that helps injured service members find healing and peace, that I was able to realize that I needed to take a step back and rest. During my time of rest and reflection, I saw how as massage therapists we tend to help everyone but ourselves. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy helping improve quality of life for others, but I learned that I also must take good care of myself. I learned some important things about self-care that I would like to now share with you.
7 Ways to Make Time for Yourself
1. Clue in. The number-one aspect of good self-care is having the ability to listen to your body. Listen to the clues your body is giving you and don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion.
2. Learn to say no. Set boundaries and don’t take on extra hours when you already have a jam-packed schedule.
3. Delegate, delegate, delegate. You don’t have to do everything; it’s OK to let others handle certain things. Try hiring experts to help with small things in your business and encouraging family members to do some of the simple tasks around the house.
4. Make time for you by scheduling time into your daily, weekly and monthly regimen. (Don’t fill your scheduled time off up with additional busy work. Actually relax.)
5. Get regular massages. As massage therapists we are naturally givers, but sometimes we need to be on the receiving end of things. Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis helps you decompress and reset. Try starting with at least one session a month and then schedule in more if you can.
6. Spend time doing the things you love. Hang out with family, go dancing, catch a movie, have a great meal, but most importantly, don’t forget to laugh! Happiness is an energy that will fuel your life.
7. Find a great support group that you can be part of. You can also rally friends and family to help cheer you on in your endeavor to take care of you. Having people around to support you in the areas you struggle with is very important to helping you stay the course.
Take Care of You
This business has many components to it, and understanding that you are an important aspect of it is extremely critical. Making sure you have the energy and vitality to get the job done is just as important as the job itself. This starts with requiring yourself to get adequate amounts of sleep, nutrition and exercise.
While no two people are the same, it is important to make sure that you know what works best for you. For me, getting seven or eight hours of sleep per night works wonders; when I get at least that much I feel mentally sharp and focused.
Another area that is uber important is having healthy eating habits. While it might be tempting for me to call for the nearest takeout, taking time to plan out my meals and incorporate lots of fruits, vegetables and water into my diet helps me stay full longer, have healthier skin and keep my body strong. I also find that those pesky sweet cravings are kept at bay when I eat better during the day.
Lastly, keeping an exercise routine has really helped me to manage stress, combat tension and strengthen my body overall. I really like strengthening my core, back and legs, as long hours standing can cause strain on my back, neck and even my joints. Adding just 30 minutes of cardio to your day can help a lot. Try going for a walk after dinner and see the difference a small change can make.
Your Business Will Thank You
Self-care plays a big role in our business. Modeling great self-care habits to your clients really adds to the success of your business. When clients come in wanting help getting rid of their own knots and kinks, the last thing they want to see is their massage therapist riddled with weariness, aches, pains and a poor attitude.
How we deal with our own stressors in life spills over onto the massage table. We want to make sure that we maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle so our clients can also benefit from having a professional who is ready to help them enter into a place of serenity and blissful relaxation, every time they utilize our services.
Further, when we feel energized by high-quality nutrition, exercise and rest, that is reflected in the decisions we make, the opportunities we see and the actions we take.
About the author
Jeanette Falu-Bishop owns Massage Business Education and Branding LLC, providing education and coaching to help wellness providers in branding, marketing, sales and business. She has traveled the country providing massage therapy to our nation’s injured, wounded and disabled veterans, celebrities and civilians, all while maintaining her family and massage clinic in Colorado.