Rekindling the Flame After Burnout


Have you ever discovered something you already knew?  I have!  After more than ten years of teaching in introductory massage programs, I can confidently say that very few students begin massage school thinking that they will get rich in their new careers!   A career in massage is more a way of life than a “job” to many of the therapists I meet.  This career tends to attract people who are innately called to heal, those who need to heal themselves, and those searching for something greater than themselves. That said, many massage therapists find themselves giving, and giving, and giving until they find themselves burnt out.

Burnout can happen for many reasons, but they all tend to start with the therapist not monitoring themselves and creating boundaries to protect themselves. Massage therapy is a physically laborious job that comes with inherent risks of injury for therapists who do not practice good body mechanics, who pack too many therapies into a workweek, or those who do not allow enough recoup time between sessions.

In addition to physical burnout, therapists can experience financial or emotional burnout.  Massage therapists have to be able to detach from the burdens of the job. Since massage therapists, in general, tend to be “givers,” they often have a difficult time asking for the monetary compensation they need to make a good living without overworking themselves.  That giving nature can also result in an inability to leave the office's job, resulting in therapists overworking themselves mentally and emotionally.  All of these “burnout” scenarios, when left unchecked, can be career enders!

I have spoken to many therapists who no longer practice massage due to the above types of situations.  It isn’t unusual for them to mention how much they miss “that time” in their lives. Which makes sense considering how many therapists feel like massage is part of who they are as a person.  It is like a part of them is missing, and for many, they wonder how they can “get back into it” with different results.

To answer this question, we have to identify what went wrong in the first place.  What drove the therapist out of practice?  Physical pain?  Financial stress?  Keeping up with the processes of running a business?  A combo?  Once the therapist understands the core issue, they can custom design their comeback! 

If the pressure of running a business was too much, they might do better working in an office or working part-time for one of the mobile massage providers, or maybe they need to start by taking a few business management classes!  If they experienced physical burnout from injuries, then they need to identify why that happened.  Too many clients?  Not enough downtime? Working harder than needed to get the job done? The solution may be working fewer hours or changing techniques.  The point is if you know what the problem is, then you can find a solution.

Sometimes the solution doesn’t look like we would expect or, even, how we want it to!  Regardless of whether a massage therapist can or cannot re-enter the profession as a practicing therapist, they can participate in the profession at a deep and meaningful level. If you find yourself in this position, remember, there are many ways to keep your connection to the massage therapy profession vibrant and growing!!! You can attend workshops and conventions, volunteer at local events, join meet and greet groups, read fascinating books, share your love of massage with your friends and family, make a point to get a massage once a month and find ways to participate in our community.  Once a therapist, always a therapist, for this “job” is full of love and connection, and that never burns out!


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