Despite the current challenges massage therapists are facing due to the pandemic, the future is looking bright for massage therapist jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts “employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand will likely increase as more healthcare providers understand the benefits of massage and these services become part of treatment plans.”
Dedication to helping others is a major incentive for becoming a licensed massage therapist. But like many professions, as a massage therapist there always is the risk of burnout. Massage therapy is physically demanding and it can be emotionally draining dealing with the problems that clients “bring to the table.” That’s why it’s important to set boundaries and care for yourself in order to enjoy a long and successful career.
If you’re not feeling well or are worn out from the physical demands and pressure of running your spa or massage practice, you can’t give your clients 100 percent. That’s why your own self-care is extremely important not only to your well-being but your business.
Self-care plan begins with setting boundaries
Your self-care plan starts with setting boundaries. Don’t let friends and families take advantage of your skills at their convenience. Have them schedule appointments just as you would with a client. You’ll also want to be mindful of your time. Don’t overbook yourself with volunteer activities or too many personal commitments that deprive you of the time you need to just sit back and unwind. Learn to say no if you find it hard, too.
Also, learn how to say no. Saying “yes” too often can be very unproductive, since you can end up with too much on your plate. And saying yes directly or indirectly by your actions is distracting. Consider how many calls, emails, texts and social media requests you receive that ask you to “please reply immediately,” “support this cause” and more that take time from doing more important things. Saying no doesn’t only apply to running your spa or massage practice. It’s equally important to say no to things that impact personal goals.
Don’t overwork yourself
When you care for yourself, you don’t overwork yourself. You need to take a break. You don’t have to go out of town to decompress, though a week or two away is the best way to truly remove yourself from the day- to-day pressures and routine (as long as you shut off your smartphone and tablet). Take a drive or a hike; meet friends for lunch; if you have a hobby, pursue it or just sit and read a book. You might even want to take a class totally unrelated to massage or skin care treatments.
Other self-care tips
Self-care tips to feel and do your best also include:
Get enough sleep: A lack of sufficient and quality shuteye means you wake up exhausted the next day, unprepared to focus on work or whatever other responsibilities you have. Even worse, lack of sleep, especially on a regular basis, can lead to a number of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and depression.
Stay hydrated: The human body is approximately 60 percent water. Your cells, organs and tissues all need water to function properly and regulate proper temperature. Since, you lose water throughout the day by breathing, sweating and digestion, you need to drink fluids and eat foods that contain water to rehydrate.
Eat right: While eating right is important for everyone, the physical demands on a licensed massage therapist makes optimum nutrition imperative. “When the fingers, forearms, shoulders and back contract with intensity and force, the energy requirements of the massage therapist become equal to the competitive athlete, endurance runner and bodybuilder.”
Exercise: Long hours standing and the strain on your joints as you work on clients can take its toll. Stretching and daily exercise – you can find any number online – that will provide relief from your own sore back, shoulders, feet and fingers.
Get a massage: Who better than you understand the value of massage to prevent injuries, relieve stress and cleanse the body of toxins? Take the advice you give your own clients and try to get a massage once a week or at least every other week. Getting a massage also helps you learn new techniques or ways to modify your own.
Spend time with friends and family:Spend your time with positive, uplifting people among your circle of friends and family. You may also want to network to find new people through business and social organizations. Positive people can be the best antidote when you are feeling overwhelmed, down or negative.
 Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed August 24, 2020. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm
 Arthur, Wendy, “Better Nutrition Helps Maintain Your Health—And Your Massage Practice,” December 28, 2018.