Self Care for the Massage Therapist

Often when I see articles about self care I skip over them because they make me feel guilty. Guilty you say? About What? Well the fact is, I never did all those great self care things that they told me I should be doing in school. I never took the yoga classes I said I was going to. Well, I took two classes, private… they were awesome. I practiced maybe 3 times and that was the end of that. Hmm, maybe yoga just isn’t my thing? I really want it to be, but in all honesty, I just have to admit to myself that for now, it’s not. I can’t seem to let it go yet, so it just hangs over me like a guilt cloud.

I also don’t get enough massage myself. That’s a tricky thing both mentally and physically for me. In my head I sometimes don’t feel like I “deserve” that massage… maybe because I had a slow week and don’t really feel I’ve put in enough work time. In actuality, that’s really the best time to receive! When you’re able to jump on the table and not worry that you’re going to be done in time for your next client!

massage

And then there is the whole trade “thing”. That can also be tricky! I had a very nice trade going on, every two weeks, in my studio… so I didn’t have to travel, but I had the sheets. It worked great for a while, but then we got off schedule with travels, illness etc… and it has just gone by the wayside. And it was actually during my last massage that I realized that I wasn’t enjoying it as much and that my favorite massage techniques were not included and some of the techniques were honestly annoying. Should I have spoken up? Yes, probably, but could I? No way. I love this person and in no way would want any feelings scorched. So I have let that trade just fall away. It’s OK. I have come to the conclusion that it’s just better to pay and go to a therapist that I feel like seeing. Problem being, I don’t do it enough!! Palm slapping forehead here!

Remember all that great self care we did in school? Remember all that massage that we had! Some better than others for sure, but I know I was super lucky to have a small class, and 90% of those massages were spot on. And we had “spa” days! Oh, such heaven. And we did Tai Chi, and stretching, and warm-ups, and centering, and we had time for lunch! Would I go back to school for those things? NO WAY!! But it is fun to look back and reminisce. And it does help to jog my brain into thinking about self care, and how I should be more mindful of it.

What about binge watching one of my favorite shows? Is that considered self care? I say, why not?! It’s something I do for my own sanity, so shouldn’t that count as self care? It totally takes me away from reality for a short time, gets my mind off my own “stuff”. It’s good, almost like meditation, right? OK, that’s a stretch, but it works for me.

gardening for self care

And then there is gardening. Now that’s one of the best self care activities I know! You get the physical workout… shoveling, raking, bending, stretching every muscle you own! Plus, for me gardening is very meditative. I’m quiet, with my thoughts, and even sometimes I come up with new revelations, or nothing in particular, just gratitude… for the day, for the life, for the bounty, for the amazing way our earth produces for us. Then there is the ultimate reward of gardening which is the organic veggies I eat fresh and preserve (in one form or another) to benefit from all year. Sounds like self care to me.

Then, there is tennis. The one sport, the love of my life! I play all I can. I used to watch it on tv too, but no longer have the channels to watch (maybe that’s a good thing). Tennis is great because there is that cardio interval thing at work, lots of stretching, running, and hand eye coordination. Then there is the mind working at strategy! It’s a very strategic game and that’s one of the things I love about it, and why, after decades of playing, I am still interested in getting out there a batting a ball back and forth over the net. No two games/points are ever alike. I just love it. And being outdoors is such a bonus. I play all summer long… actually, spring through fall until it gets too cold or they take the nets down. Then I move indoors for the winter.

jojoba oil for skin care

And a word or two about self care that pertains to just the physical body and what we as therapists NEED to do routinely to keep us coming back to the table. We all know about keeping nails and cuticles in shape… I mean, how many times a day/week do you trim your fingernails? For me it’s an every day, often multiple times a day routine. I have a major fear of causing any discomfort because of my ragged cuticles or too long nails. This may stem from an incident in school, but regardless it has become one of my absolute obsessions. As therapists we also have to constantly be aware of our breath, body odor, and general state of cleanliness. I believe this is all part of self care as well. One of the epiphanies I had, occurred during a cold and dry Maine winter. My skin and hands were so dry. In my search for the right product to use, that “duh” moment arrived where you slap your forehead and say to yourself “I can’t believe you didn’t think of this before”. I had a bottle of Jojoba at home with me for use with outcalls so I figured why not just use jojoba to moisturize at home? It’s fragrance free, soaks in so fast and doesn’t feel greasy, and the best thing is it comes pesticide free or organic and has only ONE ingredient… jojoba! The rest they say is history! I have been using jojoba in my daily skin care routine ever since. I use it as a facial moisturizer as well as all over. It also is a great makeup remover! And in the dead of winter, I also do a scalp treatment now and then. It feels marvelous and my hair is lustrous afterwards.

So not only do I use jojoba for my clients, I use it for my self care! It’s so simple. I want the best for my clients, but for myself as well. And I only have to buy ONE product. Jojoba has so many uses. I also use jojoba as a carrying oil to mix with essential oils. It’s so wonderful because it doesn’t go rancid (not that it ever stays around long enough for that to happen), and is so economical for that reason.

Well, these are some of my thoughts and ideas about self care. What do you do for self care? Are there things you do that aren’t “traditional” self care activities? We do our best, right. I often say, if we did ALL the things we are told we should be doing every day, we wouldn’t have time to live! So carry on, do the best you can, and massage on!

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