If we don’t take time to disconnect from the demands that can make our lives seem overwhelming.
If we lose sight of what brings us joy or if we live with a sense of chaos in our lives, we risk paying the ultimate price: burnout.
Self-care for massage therapists isn’t a novel concept; we all know how important it is to utilize proper body mechanics, drink enough water, eat healthy foods and get massages ourselves.
Yet, even though most of us do the best we can to take good care of ourselves, we often don’t recognize the potential disaster waiting to happen when components of our work combine with other aspects of our way-too-busy lives—financial stress, worrying about the kids, work overload or under-load, relationships—to make us feel spread so thin we think we’ll just snap.
Come Back to Yourself
Self-care is an ongoing effort that encompasses more than just guidelines on how to handle the wear and tear on your body; it’s a game plan for a happy, healthy life. And, if you do it right, it can be fun.
Take retreats, for example.
Each one is its own uniquely combined massage CE educational, spiritual or physical experience, but the end result is the same: A retreat is a safe place where stresses like running a business while balancing a family, the feeling of being overwhelmed—or whatever issues affect you most—are put on hold for a while so you can recharge your batteries.
We spend a lot of time and energy giving away little pieces of ourselves, and a retreat can be a fantastic way to help us get a few of those pieces back.
Life is complicated, and taking a break to reboot your life at a retreat can benefit you on so many different levels.
Not only does a retreat give you a chance to get out of your normal routine, but it can also give you some invaluable tools that will prove useful in both your professional and personal lives.
A retreat can be a solitary experience or taken among a group, with any number of other like-minded—and most likely quite interesting—people.
While it should absolutely be a memorable experience, at its core is some combination of personal growth, development or introspection designed to give you the tools to return to your busy, demanding life with more vision and excitement, a better perspective on your world, and more love in your heart.
Don’t confuse retreat with workshop. Massage CE workshops tend to be held in a classroom type of environment, are typically shorter in duration, and their focus is primarily on the learning experience.
Retreats, on the other hand, use some sort of hospitality facility where you stay for a given period of time—anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks—that should include personal time, activities and the opportunity to practice self-care along with instruction.
Renew Yourself and Your License
There are retreats available for just about anything you’re interested in, anywhere in the world. An internet search for massage retreats yields more than 760,000 results. Narrow your search by thinking about what you’d like to accomplish for yourself.
Would you like to enhance your professional knowledge? Embark on a journey of self-discovery? Improve your health and wellness? Do something just because it sounds interesting? Understanding what you want from a retreat is the first step in picking the one that’s best for you.
An educational retreat puts your focus on learning something new, trying something that complements what you already know, or diving into something just because it sounds intriguing.
The most effective educational retreat will expose you to some new tools, ideas or information that will ultimately help you better educate your clients and make you an even more valuable commodity than you already are.
Plus, if you’re licensed in one of the states that requires continuing education to renew your license, it’s a great way to earn your massage CEs, and renew yourself and your license.
Wellness of Body and Spirit
Retreats have long been the domain of personal enlightenment, and a spiritual or meditation- oriented retreat can offer the kind of self-care that will give you a deeper understanding of how you fit into the world. Spiritual retreats are meant to help you strengthen your concentration and insight.
They don’t necessarily have to be religious, although they can be, but are meant to empower; to help you find the profound meaning to your life.
Spending some time focusing on your inner world and leaving your busy outer world at home gives you the opportunity to see that outer world with a little more clarity.
Many retreats target self-care through yoga and wellness, and some include receiving massage as part of the itinerary. You can be pretty certain that there will be one or more daily movement sessions and that the food will be healthy and tasty.
These types of retreats focus on rejuvenating both your inner self and your physical self, with the overall goal of sending you home stronger, healthier, and with a renewed sense of vitality and calm.
Plus, their intention is that the experience you have during the retreat is something that you take back home and incorporate into your life.
Where Will You Go?
Once you’ve decided on what you’d like to accomplish, the second step is to decide where in the world you want to go.
You might want to explore an exotic locale, for example, or the Scottish Highlands—or you might feel more comfortable staying within the boundaries of North America.
There are retreats all over this continent, from Hawaii to Montreal to Baja California and everywhere in between.
There are advantages to traveling within your own country: You don’t need a passport; getting to a destination is generally faster and less expensive than flying internationally; there are no unaccustomed language or cultural differences; and there is no currency to exchange
But, if you’re up for something a little more adventurous, attending a retreat in a foreign country puts a whole new spin on things.
Many retreats involving international travel will offer a package deal, such as airfare, accommodations, education, meals and activities included in one price.
(However, whether a retreat is domestic or foreign, make sure you know exactly what the price includes and, just as importantly, what the price does not include.)
Gentle Retreat and Re-Entry
Once you’ve found your ideal retreat, there’s one last step: preparing yourself. After all, the whole idea is self-care.
It’s not easy to switch gears from the daily grind to blissful relaxation.
Getting as much as you can out of your retreat means you’ve got to prepare yourself to become completely immersed in the experience from the get-go. One way to do that is to factor in some unwind time.
The stress of leaving town sometimes seems to make it hardly worth the effort, so outsmart the stress by arriving a day or two early; the extra time will let you acclimate to a time change or give you a chance to explore and downshift.
The same goes for your return home. Give yourself at least a day to mull over how you can integrate what you’ve gained from the retreat into your daily life; you’ll become more aware of your new normal and less likely to fall back into the bad habits you’ve been able to shed during the retreat.
Good for the Career and Soul
Retreats give you a great excuse to eat wonderful, delicious food; a beautiful opportunity to meet people who could become lifelong friends; and a chance to refocus your life while taking a much-needed—and very much-deserved—break from the stress, worry, bad habits and work that can become part of usual life.
Retreats are wonderful resources for self-care. They give us a chance to nurture our minds and our bodies, and are as good for our careers as they are for our souls. They provide the perfect opportunity to care for ourselves just like we care for other people.
About the Author
George Davis uses his extensive bodywork and business background to mentor therapists during a six-day Hawaiian-style retreat. His company offers a 30-hour, National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved program that uses education, food, traditional Hawaiian studies and fun to change your business and your life.