Self Care for Massage Therapists

by Gretchen Cole, LMT, MTI and Massage Instructor

The Spiritual Warrior Retreats.
When thinking about self-care and the need for our own nurturing, a quote from Lao Tzu comes to mind, “Timely retreat is the mark of the spiritual warrior.” I use it often to remind myself and my massage students of the need for “timely retreat” when life gets us running a bit ragged.  In assessing self-care needs, try to keep various quotes and ideas in mind. Experience has shown me that we can experience deficit in a number of different ways.

To even understand the need for this timely retreat, we all need a sense of self-awareness. If feelings of frustration or burnt out surface, try to put reasons and general explanations to those emotions. For instance, if you find yourself envying your client’s time on the table, or wishing appointments were scheduled on ANY OTHER day, or not wanting to be flexible for a client’s convenience, these are all signs that there all mental, emotional or physical needs which are unacknowledged and/or unfilled.

Start by asking yourself some questions:

  • Am I feeling uninspired or breathless?
  • Do I have ongoing pain or discomfort?
  • Do I feel valued in my work life, my personal life, my family life?
  • Am I available to my own self — am I able to exercise, to read for pleasure, and to socialize enough to feel comfortable in my own life?

Identify your needs.
For me, the hardest part of the self-care equation is becoming conscious of what is moving through me – thoughts, feelings, emotions, energy – and what is not moving – muscles, attitudes, graceful change. Once identified, these areas of opportunity become the actual blueprint for getting back into a balanced life and joyful work.

Reach out.
After the acknowledgment of need, the next step is actually reaching out, both to myself and to others, to get my needs met. This is a much smaller hurdle once the work of identifying your needs is done. Also, once stated clearly, other people seem surprisingly glad to help get your needs met — it is easier for folks to be part of your solution once it’s clear what will help you.

Self-care is a continual process of identifying your needs and reaching out to fulfill them. It is a process that successful therapists re-visit throughout their careers. Wishing you a year of self-awareness and fulfillment of your self-care needs. Best of luck.