What can I do to prevent feeling drained after a day of doing massage?
Suzanne Scurlock-Durana responds:
That’s a critical question, because vitality is key to having a successful bodywork practice. A large part of not feeling drained during the workday can be solved by getting a good night’s sleep beforehand. But if you’re well-rested and still find yourself chronically tired and lacking energy, consider your answers to the following questions, and then let your insights stimulate actions that rejuvenate and refill you.
You’ll probably discover you’re handling some of these points very well—but pay special attention to the questions you haven’t thought of or haven’t taken action on yet. (We start with the assumption that you’re in good health and not dealing with an illness or a physical challenge that demands immediate attention.)
1. Do you listen to your body’s needs as you go through the day?
2. Do you know how to pay attention internally, but ignore the signals telling you your body needs something?
3. Do you need to learn how to listen to your internal signals?
4. Do you have a regular self-care practice that quiets the rush of your day, so you can listen to your inner needs and desires? (For instance, a body-centered meditation practice, contemplative prayer, qi gong, tai chi, yoga or walking.)
5. Do you schedule this practice into your day?
6. Do you have any limiting beliefs about taking care of yourself? (For example, that it’s selfish to take care of yourself before helping others.)
7. Do you eat in a way that nourishes you and allows you to stay energized?
8. Do you exercise in a way that supports and strengthens you?
9. Do you practice a massage or bodywork modality that works for your body type and energy level?
10. Do you set your session hours at the times of day when you have the most energy?
11. Does the length of each session work for you?
12. Are the number of sessions you do each day too few, or are you doing too much?
13. Do you feel overly responsible for your clients’ well-being, or are you able to do what you do best and let them take it from there?
Getting to know and honor yourself—your strengths and growth opportunities—is a vital part of ending each day feeling satisfied and energized. Set aside time to sit down with these questions and answer them honestly. Then get out your schedule, and commit to doing what it takes to blend your work with your gifts and your natural flow of energy.
This may mean moving out of a modality that drains you and into a modality that stimulates you. Or you may need to rethink your daily schedule. When you first start a bodywork practice, you may want to set hours that are broader than what you’ll ultimately be happy with. As your success grows, you can gradually shift your schedule to fit the hours that make the best use of your natural energy peaks each day.
You may also need to have healthier boundaries with your clients, letting go of those who drain you and welcoming those who need the kind of work you do best. Set your intentions to have the universe send you ideal clients and guide all others to someone else.
Now we come to the art of listening to your deeper knowing. In my experience, there are three levels at which you can read your internal-wisdom cues. Knowing which level you’re working at will help you take the actions that are most effective for you.
Level One Awareness: You need to learn how to listen more deeply to your internal wisdom. You know this because when you try to make decisions for your own good, you get confused. Or you may find what everyone else says resonates louder than your own knowing, and you end up doing things that drain you. Often you know what other people want from you, but not what you want for yourself.
If you’re working at this level, find a class or practice that teaches you to tune in and listen to your internal wisdom—the cellular intelligence of the body—and how to nurture and nourish it.
Level Two Awareness: You know how to listen internally and may have even attended related courses or meditated here and there. But you let life rush you around and dictate your schedule, so you rarely have time to listen as you move through your day.
At this level the antidote is to set aside small breaks throughout the day to slow down and tune in. You want to hear what your inner wisdom is telling you about your clients and your needs, so you can meet them. The good news is once you take the time to discern what you need, you can follow through.
Level Three Awareness: You know what you need, but you don’t follow through—you don’t make yourself a priority. You take little or no action based on what you know is best for you. Everyone else’s needs come first. You may even lecture your clients about what they should be doing to take care of themselves.
The antidote here is to sit down with your schedule and insert the practices and activities that nourish you in a healthy way. Make these life-giving activities a priority. Make self-care a priority.
Taking care of your health and well-being must come first in order for you to have the energy to take care of others. As the airlines have taught us, “Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others in need.”
Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, C.M.T., C.S.T.-D., has taught and mentored on the subject of conscious awareness and its relationship to the healing process for more than 20 years. After decades of helping health-care practitioners learn how to hold a healing space for themselves and others, she developed the comprehensive “Healing From the Core” training program and audio series. She has been a certified CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release instructor for The Upledger Institute since 1986.