Burnout is an important topic in the massage industry—and in this career field where we take care of everyone else, it’s crucial that we do the same for ourselves. It’s time to stop burning the proverbial candle at both ends.
From Burnout to Badass
I’m going to skip over the part where I say how important it is to know your physical capacity and limitations and to not overwork yourself in the treatment room (and to eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet and go to the gym)—as those topics have all been covered extensively.
Instead, let’s focus on the mindset it takes to go from burned out to badass, because mindset truly is the foundation to a fulfilled life and career.
1. Being busy isn’t a badge of honor. Wearing 20 hats and spinning your wheels isn’t a conducive way for a business owner to operate. Especially when first starting out, we often play all of the roles: owner, manager, employee, marketer, accountant, laundress—and, of course, massage therapist.
Take off a few hats by automating and delegating as much as possible. From hiring a virtual assistant, scheduling out your social media and paying a high-schooler to do your laundry, to utilizing the gig economy in order to have your errands and deliveries taken care of, you can delegate nearly anything for cheap or even for barter.
The whole “I don’t have time” excuse is a crutch in which procrastination continues to perpetuate into a never-ending cycle. If you want something done right and done efficiently, hire that task out to someone who specializes in exactly that. Automating a badass follow up marketing plan will also help you to not scramble at the last minute to keep in contact with your clients.
I also like to do a weekly, if not daily, brain dump and go through and decide which to-dos are a priority and which can wait or be delegated out or automated.
2. Form nurturing habits and rituals. One thing that I have done recently to help my ADHD brain is to have a laminated checklist of some habits I’d like to do every day, such as take my supplements, meditate for 10 minutes, read a chapter of a book, do 20 jumping jacks and 20 minutes of yoga, maintain a gratitude journal, and drink an herbal tea or green juice.
This doesn’t mean I’ll do absolutely every single one of these things every day, but it does help me stay on track the majority of the time with visible achievement, which builds momentum and instills good habits.
You can track your habits by using an app, a checklist, or simple post-it notes.
3. Self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care means being responsible for your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing so that you feel more grounded and balanced. Self-care is an integral part of self-love, which is the practice of being patient, kind, gentle and compassionate toward yourself.
All areas of your life will improve once you take time to nurture yourself and fill your own cup. I do this by scheduling a few full days off to take a long hike, get a pedicure, get a bodywork session, make some art, and anything else that makes me feel re-energized and takes my mind off any stress. For myself, meditation and journaling have played a huge role in optimizing my mood and mental well-being.
4. Celebrate your wins. I keep a folder in my phone of my favorite client reviews, proudest achievements, heart-warming messages I receive from people, pictures of cards that people have mailed me, favorite photos of people I’ve met and admire, and screenshots of things I’ve been featured in.
Having this reference to look back at reminds me when I am feeling down to not be so hard on myself and to celebrate the little moments every day—and reminds me how awesome my life is.
5. Take your power back. It’s time to stop caring about what people think about youand start setting some boundaries, say no, and reclaim personal power over your own life and the direction it’s going.
A lack of self-respect will dim the fire and light within us, leaving us with a feeling or esentment, exhaustion, and feeling begrudging and obligated rather than feeling excited and lit up inside.
Building self-respect might be difficult if you are used to bending over backwards for people, over-sacrificing, and falling prey to people-pleasing. I would know: I struggle with this every day, and so do the majority of massage therapists. Setting boundaries and standards is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly to function at your highest capacity.
6. Make decisions that align with your values. If you are making decisions from a place of scarcity, desperation, lack and “no other option” mindset versus making decisions from a balanced, confident, secure and intuitive energy, then the struggles will continue to domino effect in the opposite direction you’re hoping for.
When you make decisions that are aligned with your core values, then it’s going to magnetize more opportunities that get you closer to your vision. My core values are community, freedom, adventure and creativity.
If I am stuck making a decision, then I ask myself, “Does this bring me closer to, or further away from, my core values and life goals?” If a decision isn’t a hell yes! for me, then it’s a hell no! Remember that time is the most valuable commodity, and how and where you spend it directly correlates to your quality of life.
7. Know that you’re not alone. Seriously. You. Are. Not. Alone. Reach out to a trusted friend or colleague, schedule yourself a session with an online therapy provider, find a support group on your social media platform of choice, or simply call or text someone you know can provide you resources, a shoulder to cry on or just be a cheerleader when you need a little bit of encouragement. Life will always ebb and flow, but let’s not get stuck in the stagnation of burnout.
8. Sometimes growth means scaling back. I like to re-asses my business and goals every quarter. Sure, having a one-year or a five-year plan and goals are great, but often we forget how important it is to focus on the now.
For me, if something doesn’t work well one season, I change it and readjust. Just because you have been doing something one way doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it the same way forever. You’re allowed to change and find ways to be more efficient and stress-free.
You’re allowed to downsize your 2,000 square foot office and rebrand into a mobile massage studio—speaking from experience! if your former business model isn’t working for you: don’t fall prey to the “sunken cost” mentality.
9. Re-evaluate your rates. When is the last time you have raised your rates? Are you overbooked and over worked? When is the last time you have re-evaluated your treatment menu to see which is the most profitable and which service hasn’t been booked in months? When is the last time you took time off? When is the last time you said yes to a last-minute request when you’re by appointment only? Who doesn’t want to work less and make more and only work on their ideal clients?
10. Set boundaries. Just because you’re a bodyworker doesn’t mean you have to make everyone else’s emergency your priority. Setting some boundaries around your schedule, the profit you want to make, and the type of clients you want to see will have a huge effect on the type of clients that end up on your treatment-room table.
Fill Your Cup
Over the past decade of running on fumes and operating from pure exhaustion and mental fatigue, I’ve found these tips to have a huge impact on my own various stages of burnout and overcoming that doom-and-gloom feeling of operating from a constant state of fight, flight, flee. I hope these tips will help you fill your cup so you can continue to fill others’ cups as well.
About the Author
Rebecca Brumfield, LMT, is the founder of Badass Bodyworkers. For more mindset tips and business mentoring, visit our free community of Badass Bodyworkers on Facebook.