Welcome back to our discussion on self care for massage therapists. After defining what self care is exactly in part one, and talking about why it's important for massage therapists and how it will make you more money, we get to move on to giving you different ideas for self care. These examples vary widely and what works for me might not work for you. Actually, I’ve had people say they don’t know what to do for self care. They haven’t found “that thing” that really fills their cup. This is why I’ve included a worksheet (you can find the link at the end of this post) to help you find YOUR PERFECT self care.
Self-care comes in many forms but what some try to say is self-care is really glorified activities of daily living.
Self-care vs. activities of daily living
Getting a massage for yourself vs. taking a shower
While that hot shower might relax you, it’s not quite the same as laying on the massage table for an hour, meeting a friend for a walk, or getting up 30 minutes earlier to have time to yourself before the household awakens.
Your self care “thing” needs to be something that fills your tank. That makes you smile or brings you peace.
For example, one of mine is being around horses. I get asked if it’s riding horses, and for me, it isn’t. While I enjoy horseback riding, the part that really calms and soothes me is grooming horses. I like to be near them and brush them until their coats shine. I like braiding tails, picking hooves, and giving mini massages while brushing them. I find it very therapeutic, quiet and being near a horse rejuvenates me. It calms my nerves if I’m agitated. It helps me solve problems or puts me in a meditative state, where I’m always feeling better afterward. Can you name something that works the same for you?
If you can, that should be your self care activity!
Let’s look further into some self care ideas.
Taking a bubble bath may be all you have time for now, and it’s better than nothing but let’s look at some examples of self-care that could really fill your cup.
These ideas are going to fall into four categories.
Eat better, move more, recover, and reflect.
What you put in your body and when you eat has the biggest impact on energy levels. Eat for nutrition and choose food with a purpose. Ask yourself before eating, “What benefits does ______ have for my body?”
Strive to eat all colors of the rainbow daily. Almost everyone needs more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis which provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals.
Avoid energy crashes and cravings by eating regularly. Don’t skip meals if you want to keep your energy level high. Some people eat multiple tiny meals throughout the day and others eat three larger meals. You may need to see what works best for you but come prepared with healthy food to a busy day of massage.
Eat smart. Aim to eat whole foods (minimally processed) 80% of the time and use sugar and caffeine sparingly. You don’t have to eliminate sugar and caffeine but use in moderation as both are false energy spikers. Train your body to crave nutrition instead of sugar and preservatives.
Self care idea for massage therapists #1
Eat the colors of the rainbow in a meal. Find and prepare something fresh with red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
Self care idea for massage therapists #2
Meal prep on Sunday to have food ready for the upcoming week. Take food with you to work 5 days this week so you always have high-quality protein, carbs, and fats handy for meal breaks. The best way to control what goes into your body is to make it yourself.
Self care idea for massage therapists #3
Change up your morning coffee for a hot Matcha Tea. If a latte makes you happy, add steamed milk or almond milk to your matcha for a matcha latte. Yum!
The human body is made to move. Our bodies naturally want to move even though present-day conveniences make this forgotten. As massage therapists, we need conscious movement daily for career longevity. Injuries, as well as fatigue and burn out are less prevalent in therapists who move their bodies regularly. This includes cardiovascular and strength exercises as well as stretching.
Finding a combination of cardiovascular and strength exercises you enjoy is the key to making it a part of your lifestyle. If jogging isn’t your thing, maybe a kickboxing class is. Jumping rope or jumping on a trampoline makes great cardiovascular exercises and doesn’t fall into the typical cardio realm. Think outside the box and do what works for you.
Exercise increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy. All the more reason to add exercise and keep those clients coming back to a happy therapist.
Stretching brings body awareness and flexibility which maintains a good quality of life. Yoga is a popular practice that adds balance and strength to stretching. You can’t go wrong with that.
Live a more active lifestyle and track your steps in a day. There are many fitness trackers available to track how many steps you take in a day. Your cell phone may already have one installed. Get outdoors and you will naturally move more. Aim for 10,000 steps a day and you’re well on your way to a more active lifestyle.
Physical self care for massage therapists’ idea #1
Take a Tia Chi class to learn this meditative, flowing style of movement good for balance at the massage table.
Physical self care for massage therapists’ idea #2
Put some headphones on with your favorite music and dance like no one’s watching. Dance and jump around until you’re breathing hard.
Physical self care for massage therapists’ idea #3
Garden. Get your hands in the dirt. Pick up and carry loads of leaves, and cuttings to beautify your yard while breathing in the fresh outdoor air.
Giving your body time to recover is as important as having your schedule full of clients. Not only do massage therapists need recovery for their physical bodies, but they also need mental recovery time too. Self-employed massage therapists wear many hats and some days take a mental toll on a business owner. Getting enough sleep helps with both physical and mental recovery. Strive for 7-8 hours every night.
Foam rolling, stretching, and yoga are all ways to help the physical body recover.
Finding that stress-relieving activity or place is key to keeping a healthy mind. This may be playing with your dog or sitting under your favorite tree with no one around.
Downtime away from the hustle of work and your phone screen is necessary for good mental health. Even if you’re a superior multitasker, your brain needs a break.
Time spent alone can be one of the best recovery tools. This doesn’t mean hours alone, although I love that, even 10 minutes of quiet meditation works when done often enough. Try sitting with your thoughts. No one talking, no music, no distractions. This can be a huge challenge for some people but staying with it makes it easier and over time most people find value in alone time.
Self care tip for massage therapists #1
Take a beginning yoga class at your local yoga studio. Better yet, look for a restorative yoga class if they offer one. That’s perfect after a long week of massage clients.
Self care tip for massage therapists #2
Try a guided meditation. For those who find medication hard, when you sit and listen to someone’s voice talking you through the meditation, it’s much easier. Their voice gives you direction and keeps your mind from wandering.
Self care tip for massage therapists #3
Challenge yourself to a week of no “screens” two hours prior to bedtime. This means the phone, computer, and TV are off and your body starts to wind down for sleep. Stretch, read a book or journal your thoughts in the time you would normally be looking at a screen.
Reflection allows for better mental and emotional health. Making time to spend with yourself is important to become clear about what you want, where you are currently, and what needs to change. Quiet time allows centering which is essential for mental and emotional health.
Carve out uninterrupted time each day to reflect while journaling or meditating. Practice gratitude for the skills you have as a massage therapist and the lives you improve by choosing this profession. Recognize the service your body gives each day so you can see client after client and be grateful for a healthy body.
Show yourself some grace when mistakes are made or goals aren’t quite reached when you’d like. Keep learning and providing your clients with the best possible work you can. We are all a work in progress.
Self care tip for massage therapists #1
Write down twenty things you are grateful for.
Self care tip for massage therapists #2
Write down five things you love about yourself.
Self care tip for massage therapists #3
Spend 30 minutes writing about your massage business/career since you began. How far have you come? Where do you want to be with your massage practice in the next 5 years? What are some things you’ve learned since you began? Appreciate how far you’ve come and how many people you’ve helped along the way.
You may be saying, this all sounds great Angela, but I have 4 kids, a massage practice and I don’t know where to begin to add self-care to my busy life. Here’s what I want you to do. Break it down and add one thing. When you’ve got that, add another.
Actively look for opportunities to practice self-care. Write down workouts on your calendar. Get a work-out buddy. Find a friend to meal prep with so there are nutritious choices of food to take to work for the week. Batch cook so busy weeknights have easy dinners. Tell others about your goals to increase commitment.
Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. This could look like longer meditations, harder hikes, taking your lunch to work 10 days in a row instead of eating out.
A goal could be doing one relaxing activity every day. Write the goals down for an increased likelihood of completion.
We can’t expect things to change if we don’t make a change. Take a risk with one thing in your self-care. Sign up for a 5K race and plan to be ready to complete the 3.1 miles on race day even if you can’t complete one mile now.
Have courage, allow failure, and expect success.
Identify the things you do daily that don’t serve you. These are the things that take more from your energy bank than they add.
What isn’t working for you right now? An example of your “no” could be, No checking social media before 7 am or after 7 pm.
No phones during meals.
No more than three deep tissue clients per day.
I may choose to make my teenager a late lunch before sports practices even though it cuts into my workday. It fills my energy bank by knowing he gets something nutritious, I get to talk with him, and I make up the work missed somewhere else.
It’s all a choice and you get to make it. If there is a client, who has you groaning every time you see them on your schedule, get rid of them. It’s not worth the energy expenditure.
Your goals will keep you on track and your “no” list will support your goals.
Routines are used by many successful people. The wake-up at 5 am routine. Exercise daily routines. Drink a gallon of water a day routine.
What can you make a routine to help your self-care goals? Is it a meal prepping every Sunday routine? Take a walk at lunch everyday routine?
Give something new 14 days and see if it feels easier. 21 days should make it a habit and eventually, it will become a way of life.
I truly believe our career longevity as massage therapists rely on self-care including healthy eating, movement, and body mechanics awareness. If you’d like the worksheet to help you find YOUR perfect self-care activity, visit https://www.thefitmt.com/pl/2147565565.
Until next time
Be fit, be strong, and get your self-care on!
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