Finding Work-Life Balance While Running a Massage Practice

By Jo Sahlin, Massagetique Correspondent
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In 2010, Investopedia ranked massage therapy as one of the top five high-paying, low-stress jobs available. Whether you agree or not, any job can have its ups and downs, and any professional is bound to need some reminders about caring for the self under pressure and maintaining a balance between their career and home life. A job like massage can be both physically and psychologically stressful, so keep these tips handy to help ensure well-being and the best experience for your clients.

Set hours that maximize your efficiency and abilities.

If you know you are sharper with paperwork and billing matters in the morning, for example, try not to schedule clients before 10 a.m. If you find you can put more physical energy into a massage in the afternoon, reserve those appointments for more vigorous treatments when possible.

Build in time to recharge between clients.

Rushing from one appointment to the next creates stress for you and does a disservice to your clients, who are anticipating a calm, relaxed atmosphere for their bodywork session. In addition to building a cushion for things like changing sheets, cleansing your workspace, and switching the music, create time and space for yourself to meditate, call your family, or do whatever helps you recharge.

Hydrate.

When your hands are occupied (and covered in oil or lotion) for at least 60 minutes at a time, you’re not necessarily thinking about reaching for your water bottle. But massage, even when performed well, is physically taxing on the therapist. Be sure you’re drinking enough water between sessions to balance the exertion of your practice.

Trade with a colleague.

Massage therapists may tend to neglect self-care even while promoting it to clients and studying health and wellness. If you are someone who says, “You always have time for a massage!” take your own advice and make time to get a massage. You might even swap bodywork treatments with a colleague—maybe you offer hot rock massage and know someone who gives an excellent exfoliation treatment. You can both ease some stress by taking a few hours to experience one another’s specialty.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Your time is valuable! You have worked hard to be able to offer the services you do. Though you might find some people who think bodywork is frivolous or nonessential or believe massage is something “anyone could do,” your education and experience say otherwise. Select rates that are in accordance with the industry standard in your area, and no less. This will also help ensure you’re not overworking yourself to make ends meet.

Don’t fall in a rut.

If you’re doing the same type of practice day after day, year after year, you might experience burnout more quickly. With a massage license and a world of continuing education at your fingertips, you can shake things up fairly easily by learning new skills and disciplines. If you’ve been practicing shiatsu massage for a few years and it’s starting to feel like a grind, learn a new practice like cupping, reiki, or lomi lomi. You might also choose to vary your surroundings by offering house calls or visiting nursing homes. Altering the space you consider your office can make your practice feel new and help you feel re-energized.

Take a break.

Any job, even one you love, can feel draining when it gets too monotonous. So step away from scheduling for a week (or even a long weekend here and there) and take a much-needed vacation. Go camping for a night, visit a beach with family, or just relax at home—as long as your home isn’t also your office.

Care for your mental health.

Massage is considered a health care profession. As caregivers, massage practitioners are subject to compassion fatigue, or caregiver burnout. Spending hours a day meeting others’ wellness needs may mean yours are not being addressed. Pay attention to the times you may be feeling down, anxious, lethargic, or hopeless. If you experience depression or any symptoms of caregiver fatigue, consider making an appointment with a mental health professional to address mental wellness.

Walk the walk.

If you’re advising clients (within the bounds of your credentials) about nutrition choices, fitness, stretching, or self-massage, take your own advice when it applies to you. Lead by example and put your knowledge of health and wellness to work for yourself.

Stay positive.

Though it may seem trite, a good attitude can go a long way toward maintaining your positive image with clients and ensuring your personal momentum throughout the workday. Adopt a vision of success, serenity, and wellness, and chances are you will pass that along to your clients.

References:

  1. Beck, M. F. (2011). Theory & practice of therapeutic massage (5th ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Milady.
  2. Bell, A. (2010). 5 high-paying, low-stress jobs. Investopedia. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0510/5-high-paying-low-stress-jobs.aspx?lgl=myfinance-layout-no-ads

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