As someone working in the wellness industry, you know how important self-care is. Prioritizing it is your responsibility. It’s not always easy to make time for self-care. Massage therapists devote their time to taking care of people. They teach people to take better care of themselves. Unfortunately, self-care for massage therapists is often put on the back burner. This can lead to burnout or injury.
Massage clients look to their therapists for advice and guidance. They expect them to lead by example. If massage therapists don’t practise what they preach, it shows. That doesn’t instil confidence.
It’s a little hypocritical to tell clients they need regular massages if you don’t get them. You can’t show up for clients the way you should if you’re hurt or stressed out. Taking good care of yourself enhances what you’re able to do for others.
Self-care for massage therapists is SO important
The average lifespan of a massage career is 5-8 years, according to various reports. That’s not very long. The most likely cause of this short lifespan is injury or burnout. Both of these problems are preventable. Just ask a therapist who’s been in the industry for 15, 20 or even 25 years.
- Self-care increases the longevity of your career. When you make yourself a priority, you last longer. You’ll be more satisfied with your work and less likely to get hurt if you take care of yourself.
- Self-care decreases the odds of burnout. Burnout is ultimately the result of doing too much and not catering to your own needs. This can happen to anyone in any career. Massage therapists are especially at risk of burnout because they give so much of their energy to others.
- Self-care makes you a better therapist. You can inspire others with your own self-care. You can share your personal experience and the impact self-care has on you. Clients are more likely to take your advice when you’re living proof that it works.
- Self-care improves your quality of life. You work to earn a living, so you can enjoy your life. Life is better when you have energy, feel good, and are less stressed. It’s hard to maintain that without a regular R&R.
Clinic owners benefit from prioritizing self-care for their staff
Do you have multiple therapists working in your clinic? The secret to keeping staff and customers happy is self-care. When you prioritize self-care for massage therapists in your clinic, your business reaps the rewards.
- Your business will have less turnover. When your staff is happy and well cared for, they are more likely to stay with you. Prioritizing self-care for your staff lets them know you care about their well-being. That goes a long way towards building their loyalty to you and your business.
- Your business will retain more customers. Retaining massage therapists is the key to retaining more customers. Massage is a very personal experience. When people find a therapist they like, they want to stick with them. Constant turnover of massage therapists will cause many customers to look elsewhere for care.
- You’ll spend less money long-term. Hiring a massage therapist and training them costs money. You don’t want to constantly be bringing on new people. Prioritizing self-care for massage therapists will cut down on job-related injuries. That reduces the chances of losing staff and incurring costly workers comp claims.
- Better service for your customers. The consideration you show your staff will enhance the experience of your customers. People pick up on subtle things like stress levels, happiness, and discomfort. If your staff is happy, they will project those good vibes onto customers they engage with.
- You create a positive work environment. Prioritizing self-care will spill over into every aspect of your business. Morale will be higher. People are more productive when they feel good. Massage therapists will want to work for you.
11 self-care tips for massage therapists
1. Build breaks into your daily schedule. Don’t let money be the only driving force behind your schedule. Your career will last longer and be more profitable if you take time to rest. Schedule a buffer between appointments to give your hands and your mind a quick break. If you only have time to wash your hands and change the sheets, you’ll run out of steam fast.
2. Automate administrative tasks. Use clinic management software, like ClinicSense, to decrease your workload. This will allow more time to rest between clients. Plus, eliminating time-consuming admin tasks shortens your overall work week. That means more free time to do whatever you want. Using software can cut down on time spent on scheduling, marketing, and bookkeeping for massage therapists.
3. Get a massage. You deserve it. There’s nothing worse than giving someone a massage and wishing it was you on the table. Massage therapy should be a regular part of any self-care regime, especially for massage therapists.
4. Invest in continuing education. Expanding your knowledge helps in two different ways. First, learning new things keeps your mind sharp and makes you excited about your work. Second, learning new skills makes your work smarter, not harder. Practising a variety of modalities can decrease your likelihood of developing a repetitive strain injury. Improving your problem-solving skills can produce better results without working as hard.
5. Use tools. Save your hands and use other body parts or tools to massage. Your choice of tool could be a forearm, T-bar, or electronic device. Experiment with different things to figure out what feels best for you and your clients.
6. Get regular exercise. Keep your body in good working condition. Maintaining strength and flexibility helps prevent injuries. Plus, it’s good stress relief. Choose something you enjoy, so that you stick with it every week.
7. Practice meditation. Meditation helps manage mental, emotional, and physical stress. It’s a restorative practise of being mindful and relaxed. Put another way, it’s the conscious decision to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Just a few minutes of meditation a day can improve your mood, sleep and sense of wellbeing. If you enjoy it, you might consider offering it as a massage add-on to clients.
8. Improve your posture and use good body mechanics. Pay attention to how you use your body when giving massages. Injury results from poor body mechanics. Being aware is the biggest step towards correcting the problem. If you struggle with correcting your posture, consider taking a course in Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais Method.
9. Take a moment for yourself before and after each massage session. Good therapy involves being focused solely on your client during their session. You can’t do that if you bring your personal problems into the treatment room. It’s equally important you don’t carry the troubles of your clients with you after their session. Create a ritual of leaving those problems at the door. For example, try incorporating the act of letting go when you wash your hands. When you wash your hands before the session, “wash off” anything you don’t want to bring with you. Do the same when you wash your hands after the session is over.
10. Choose clients that are a good fit for you as a therapist. No two massage therapists have the exact same skill set. That’s because everyone has a different touch, different experiences, and a slightly different area of study. Not every client will be a match for that skill set. It’s a lot less stressful to serve clients who enjoy and benefit from your personal style.
11. Support each other. Massage therapists are some of the most caring people around. Connect with other therapists. They understand your struggles. This can relieve the need to feel competitive and instead foster a support system. There will be times when you get sick or just need a break. Having someone you can count on to cover for you is a career-saving strategy.