7 Years… the average career lifespan in the Massage Therapy Profession. Doesn’t seem that long does it? So why only 7? How did I manage to get 25+ years in?
Balance. One would think that this is self-explanatory, and yet many of us struggle with it. I, personally, am guilty of the ‘gotta make hay while the sunshines’ regime. This attitude put me into ‘burnout’. The biggest curse of the Massage Therapist!
What is Burnout?
Burnout as defined in the dictionary is ‘the physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress’ or ‘fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity’.
Not only is Massage a physically demanding profession, it can be mentally, and energetically grueling as well.
We are physically using our body to release muscle tissue in another being. Hands, arms, legs, back… our whole body is involved, and if improperly cared for, physical breakdown/ injury can occur.
Mentally and Energetically, we can become attached to our clients. While we do try to remain somewhat detached, it’s not always possible. This one person is our sole focus for 30-90(+) minutes! Even with boundaries in place this can, and will happen.
So what are the best ways to avoid this? In no particular order, here are a few key essentials:
Self-Care. Get a massage, go to the Chiropractor, go to Physio. Do yoga, meditation. RELAX! Take time away from the treatment room.
Eat Well. Eat healthy and often. Our bodies need food to survive, and the more we put out, the more we have to take in. Take the time to eat, or snack, and remember, protein is the bodies fuel!
Rest. Seems simple, but often we forget to rest. I’ve been known to even have a nap on certain days. To rejuvenate, the body need quiet time. A time of recovery, and the only way to do that is to rest. Get your Zzz’s in. Sleep!!
Keep up to Date. Keeping you Soap Notes, billing, and finances in order and up to date, will be a relief in the end. If your not, there’s a sense of panic when these items go out-of-date.
We never see Burnout coming. It sneaks up, and catches us off guard, so best to circumvent it BEFORE it happens!
Can you recover from Burnout? Yes you can! I did, and I’ve seen others bounce back as well. How did we do it?
I took 5 weeks off one summer. 2 weeks one month, back to work for 2-3 weeks, then 3 weeks off (I would’ve taken it all in one chunk, but I had other commitments as well). My clients completely understood.
A colleague of mine, took 2 months off, and her clients were more than happy for her to go, recover, and come back. Neither one of us lost a single client over it.
Many professionals take holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, and sabbaticals, so can you! Just use this wisely.
What to tell Clients
Should you need to do something like this, you can tell them you are going on a Retreat, Course, or just taking some time away. Most will ask you if your OK, and in keeping within professional boundaries, the answer should be, “I’m great! Just time to get away for a bit”. (Or something along those lines). You don’t want your clients to know that your in ‘burnout mode’, this can lead people to making their own determination about your health, and stability professionally.
Many new Therapists give up too soon. Getting you name out can take time, and if your not working, your not earning. So many in our field leave it just as they’re about to ‘break through’ that first building block.
Be prepared, even when going into an established clinic/spa. You will increase your clientele faster, and I personally, think it’s the best way to start, it will still take time though.
Work your way up. Make a plan. My original plan, way back, was:
1 Massage a day, then 2, and so on. And it worked! It took me a couple of years, but soon enough I was doing 3 a day, then 5 a day. (Marketing was very different, so this growth was amazing for the time).
Decide how many a day/ week you want to do, and can do, avoiding Burnout. 3-4 per day 4 days a week is a pretty good income!
Here’s to a Long and Fulfilling Career!!
Have an Awesome Day,