Like any long-term relationship, your massage career is going to go through it’s ups and downs.
If you’ve been in this profession long enough, you already know this.
Some days you’re flying high, knowing you’ve chosen the perfect career, and nothing in the entire world could be more fulfilling than helping people feel better. Your clients love you, you love them, and life is wonderful.
And then there are days where you feel drained, uninspired, or even downright over it.
It’s both normal and expected to feel this way sometimes. We simply can’t always be at our peak 100% of the time.
If you experience these natural ebbs and flows, it’s not a big deal.
But when you’re beginning to feel like this more often than not, you run the risk of facing burnout - and that can feel pretty scary.
Especially if you know deep down you love your career, but just can’t seem to get the mojo back.
Sometimes the very best thing we can do for ourselves and our career if we are facing legitimate burnout is take a break.
Massage is physically and emotionally demanding, and there’s no shame in cutting back or taking a break altogether. I have taken a few breaks in my 14 year career.
Once, I took a year off to do different work.
5 years ago I was able to take a year and a half off after the birth of my daughter.
Because I’m passionate about bodywork, and I truly love my career, these breaks helped me see how much I truly love what I do.
Each time I re-entered my bodywork career it was with a renewed focus and purpose.
Know that if you make a choice to take a break at some point in your career, it is not a failure at all, and could be the best thing you could do.
But what if taking a break doesn’t feel like an option right now?
Let’s examine what leads to massage therapist burnout, and what we can do to stay happy, healthy, and inspired in our career.
Massage Therapist Self Care
This is numero uno, and it can’t be glossed over or taken lightly!
Self-care is our foundation; the secret sauce to longevity in this career.
I wish more massage schools taught the importance of this. Self-care is rooted in our daily habits and choices.
Here are my non-negotiable, self-care habits that keep my mind and body functioning at an optimal level:
Get worked on yourself
You know this, but are you making it a priority?
Receiving regular massage/bodywork not only keeps our bodies functioning optimally, it helps remind us why this work is so uplifting and transformational.
If you are relatively early on in your career, seek out therapists who are more experienced than you, and learn from their touch.
Even if you are a seasoned therapist, we can always be learning. Explore different styles and modalities.
Massage therapy and Bodywork are endless art-forms, so keep learning and receiving!
Acquire a daily movement practice
This could be yoga, exercise, tai chi, dancing or…
I do 20 minutes a day of some type of movement that links my body to my breath. For me, this is usually a yoga/dance blend.
Choose something fun, that brings you joy.
Go check out a new movement class in your area. Start moving your body in different ways.
Our mental ruts can be rooted in our body’s habitual movement patterns, which is why I love free-form dance.
Explore the different ranges of motion of your body, and listen carefully to what your body needs. It may need slow stretching movements to loosen up tight fascia. Or you may need to shake out some stagnant juju!
If you are not familiar with Gabrielle Roth’s work with the 5 Rhythms, I highly recommend it.
Change your physical state to change your mental state!
Taking some time each day to get quiet and observe your mind without distractions is so beneficial.
I’ve let this one slide before, thinking that I’m “meditating” all day with my bodywork clients.
While it’s true I am in a meditative state when I work, it’s not a substitute for my personal practice.
We need to take time for ourselves and get back into our own center. If you don’t know how to meditate, you could find a guided meditation on youtube or from a cd. There are even guided meditation apps.
I am a firm believer that all answers lie within ourselves.
The busier you are, the more you need this!
Know your own body and pay attention to how different foods affect your energy and mood.
Personally, I don’t live by any hard and fast dietary rules, as I believe in staying tuned in to my body’s needs as well as eating what is seasonal.
A good guideline is to choose food that is as fresh and unprocessed as possible.
We put enough strain on our bodies with repetitive stress, we don’t need to feed inflammation by eating inflammatory foods.
Steer clear of repetitive stress
Repetitive movements can lead not only to boredom but injury as well.
Hopefully, you were taught great body mechanics in school, and you are utilizing those in your practice.
Most of us, however, still have room for improvement in this department.
Have you ever filmed yourself giving a massage? That is an amazing way to see what your body is actually doing during your sessions and to reveal unconscious bad habits.
Another way to avoid repetitive stress is by switching up your “tools” and techniques frequently.
Keep sharpening your skill set
Every LMT I know with a long-term career is continually expanding his/her knowledge.
As a small-framed person, I quickly realized that I needed to learn effective techniques that wouldn’t kill my body.
For me, learning how to effectively use my forearms and elbows, as well as leverage body mechanics has been essential to my long-term career.
Learning a new modality like Ashiatsu, Thai Massage, Lomilomi or Cupping can give you some great new tools that don’t tax your hands. Taking CEU Classes is probably THE number one way to stay inspired in your bodywork career. Stay informed about CEU classes in your area.
If you don’t have the funds currently there is always YouTube University! I am amazed by how many talented therapists have Youtube channels and offer so much training absolutely free.
Write it down
What do you love about massage and bodywork?
Do you know your purpose and your why?
I encourage you to reflect on your personal story. Why did you become a massage therapist? What inspired you to choose this path in the first place?
Dig deep and write down your massage “love story.”
The act of writing it down, or putting it on video, can be very powerful and help you to reconnect with your purpose and passion for this work.
What do you do to stay inspired in your career?
I would love to hear from you any tips or practices you’ve found helpful in sustaining a long and healthy relationship with bodywork. Feel free to reach out to me at Healing Alchemy.
- Author: Brenna Moore
- Published: October 23, 2017