Have you ever thought to yourself, during a typical work day, “I wish I were the one lying on this table right now”?
Early in my Massage Therapy career I didn’t think I could afford to pay for a massage and I didn’t know many therapists who were willing to trade therapies. Working part time from an office in my home just wasn’t paying my bills. An opportunity presented itself and I began working in a Massage Clinic. I was the new kid on the block (at age 42) and struggling to keep up with the other, well-seasoned therapists. They made it look so easy to manage a weekly 30 to 40 hour massage schedule. I had little control of my client load or schedule. Each day was a gamble as to the number of appointments and if there would be time for a break in between. The financial reward was pleasing, and paying for a massage or bodywork was no longer an issue; however crossing off “Make time for Self” from my To Do List didn’t happen as frequently as it should have.

After several month at this pace, my body petitioned more and more requests for assistance. I continued to negotiate by ignoring the signs, not fully understanding that my ability to thoroughly serve my clients was compromised due to the neglect of my needs.

The term “hands on” has since taken on a new meaning for me. While it is important to attend workshops to learn new skills and maintain the necessary foundation of massage. It is equally significant to “practice what we preach” and make time to refuel our own physical, mental and spiritual needs. This profession may appear simple and easy from an outsiders’ point of view, but to do it well requires discipline. I realize this concept is not Headline News to the trained professionals using touch on a daily basis. And yet I do know how easy it is to loose sight of ourselves as we are drawn into the many tasks of each day.

I’d like to share a few tips for maintaining a healthy balance.

– Start each day with a walk or some form of stretching. Ex: Sun Salutation Yoga warm up
– Eat a healthy diet that complements your body’s needs.
– Practice deep and even breathing to keep oxygen flowing throughout your body.
– Frequently monitor your body mechanics.
– Define your personal and professional boundaries. Know your limits and adhere to them.
– Focus on your clients’ needs without taking on their issues.
– Develop and practice holding a consistent healing space during each client session.

The next time you find yourself on the road to “Burn Out City” remember this;
If you take great care of yourself, you’ll be able to take better care of your clients. Not all of your clients will consciously appreciate your efforts, but I believe that the rewards will come in all shapes, sizes and forms of currency.

ShirkAbout Julie K. Shirk, LMT: After 20 years in the corporate world, I have learned that being my own boss is harder than I imagined. Maintaining a private massage therapy practice in Dayton, Ohio, has its challenges, but it is by far the best thing I have ever done.

Julie can be reached at jshirklmt@gmail.com.