Successful Business Handbook

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

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self-care savvy self-care By Nina McIntosh Others come to us to lift their spirits, but how do we keep our own batteries charged? This work can be demanding as well as rewarding. Aside from the physical wear and tear—the sore shoulders, aching backs, and tired hands—there are emotional challenges as well. In a uniquely intimate environment, you're called on to put nervous clients at ease, comfort those in crisis, and appease the occasional grump—all while keeping your professional balance and objectivity. You might also have work-related stresses outside the treatment room. For instance, those closest to you may not support or fully appreciate your choice of profession. Or the community you live in can be indifferent to, or uneducated about, the benefits of massage therapy and bodywork. In such an atmosphere, it can feel as if you're always swimming upstream. Benefits and stresses will vary according to your work setting. Working for an employer offers security, but also the aggravation of adjusting to another's values and schedule. A private practice brings freedom but can be more financially uncertain (and sometimes, lonely). The news isn't all bad, however. Once you've identified the pressures on you, you can begin developing ways to nourish your mind, rejuvenate your body, and keep your spark and enthusiasm alive. It's essential that you do so—not just for your own well being, but also for the health of your practice. Sagging spirits and burnout can affect your ability to maintain good professional relationships. How well you keep boundaries can depend on your overall emotional health and even how you're feeling on a particular day. For instance, one of the most common boundary errors we can make is chatting too much during a session. Frequently, this stems from feeling isolated and needing someone to talk to. We have to be aware that clients may be turned off when they sense we're depleted or needy. Here are some warning signs your self-care needs more attention: • You dread your clients' arrival. • ou have physical symptoms that Y get worse while you're working and that persist even after a good night's sleep and a massage. • ou're irritable or rude with clients. Y • uring a session, the minutes D crawl by so slowly you think the clock must be broken. • he majority of your clients strike T you as difficult or demanding. • our clients ask, "How many Y sessions have you done today?" or "Do you ever get bodywork for yourself?" (Though they'll rarely tell us when they think we're tired, clients will often express their concern indirectly.) • ou find it difficult to focus on Y your work during a session and even forget what areas of the body you've already covered. • t's been a long time since you've I felt inspired about your work. If these statements are true for you more often than not, consider taking a day off. Allow some time to come up with new ways to rejuvenate yourself. Self-Care Suggestions We should attend to our professional health in a variety of ways. It's essential to maintain our physical vitality; to ensure that we're getting enough support and recognition from our colleagues; to seek out encouragement and enlightenment from teachers; and to schedule activities outside our work lives—including plenty of playtime with friends. You may already have some successful strategies that work well for you. Following are a few ideas that might not already be in your repertoire.

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