When it comes to managing your massage therapy school responsibilities with work, family and the rest of your life, finding balance may be a struggle.

It is important to not feel so overwhelmed by the demands of school that it causes other areas in your life to become neglected. Too much imbalance can create disharmony in relationships with others as well as a relationship with yourself. Let these seven steps serve as a guide to finding balance between massage therapy school and life’s responsibilities.

1. Write a List of What is Important to You

Writing a list of all the important things in your life will allow you to visually see what brings you joy and comfort. Think of all the things that would allow you to regain grounding after a long day at school. Finding time to ground yourself in a schedule that demands your strict attentiveness will allow you to decompress from the day when you are able to do what is important to you.

Cassandra Haber works part-time at Qua Baths and Spa inside Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip and currently is a full-time nursing student. One of the things on her list that is important to her is working out.

“I keep a workout regime; it may not be as long or as intense as before I was in school but if I can at least get 30 minutes in at a time, it creates that balance I need,” Haber says. She goes on to explain that working out helps clear her mind and releases those endorphins that allow her to reset and focus.

2. Prioritize the Items on Your List

Your list is written as to what is important to you; now go through the list and prioritize what is “most valuable,” advises Laura Jolley, CIDESCO Certified Aesthetician, licensed massage therapist, fitness instructor, yoga teacher and a current student of the Mayo Clinic, studying to be a Certified Wellness Coach.

Jolley emphasizes the importance of prioritizing your list.

“Place more time on those things where the priority is the greatest. Changes can happen every day when it comes to priorities; some things that were a priority yesterday may not be the same for today,” she says.

Jolley says her mother, for example, is a priority in her life and she will put time aside to talk to her on the phone once or twice within a week. She will change her priorities after she has talked to her mother because she has accomplished a priority on her list. This enables other items on her list to be fulfilled within the remaining time of the week.

3. Schedule Those Items

A list of items that are of most importance to you has been created and you’ve prioritized what is most valuable; now schedule those items within your day, week and/or month. Placing a time and a date on when you will be able to partake in those things that are of importance allows you to look forward to them.

 “Scheduling time with those I love once a week, whether it may be dinner with my boyfriend or a movie with a friend, this motivates me to complete all my assignments each week so I can really enjoy that time with my loved ones, leaving my mind free from thoughts of unfinished work,” says Haber.

Having a sense of freedom from schoolwork and attendance is great both mentally and physically. This balance gives rest to the mind and reassurance that your simple desires are being fulfilled. Knowing when you are to experience your life’s important needs by scheduling them brings hope to the sometimes lengthy and lingering demands of massage therapy school.

4. Permit Yourself to Take a Break

It may be easy to fill in your calendar with dates and times for you to enjoy time away from your studies, but then guilt may stop you from actually taking that time. This is when self-love and self-care become instrumental to your health.

“I have to make sure to reward myself,” Haber explains. “This self-love of permitting myself to take a break from life’s demands is my key element to sanity.”

Too often, people get caught up in taking care of everything and everyone else that they forget about their own self-care. When this happens, self-love starts to diminish. 

So, permit yourself to take a break. Do not let the guilt of taking care of yourself have an effect on your health. Taking a break is the most significant thing you can do while life’s responsibilities are weighing you down, draining the energy that lies within you. Self-care will keep you afloat when the demands of massage therapy school and life become too much.

5. Cultivate a Positive Attitude

Poet Maya Angelou said, “Living well is an art that can be developed.” What we choose to do every day is a learned behavior — an art form — and can be developed into living well.

When our life’s struggles are heavy on our soul, it is our attitude which can lift the weight off of us. Attitudes come from experience. Some choose to live negatively in response to what happens to them, while others choose to respond with a more positive attitude.

One person who uplifts those around him and consciously chooses positivity within his circumstances is Fabian Amaro; he works full-time, goes to massage therapy school full-time, is married, just recently had his first child and is the sole provider for his family. He has many demands in his life, yet he chooses positivity.

Amaro’s optimism parlays into his positive attitude.

“I know that massage school is a short length of time and thoroughly enjoy the whole process of learning,” he says, even though he says it’s sometimes difficult balancing it with work and family. He also reflects back on his reservoir of Bible verses when he’s feeling stressed. Choosing a positive attitude keeps him, and his family, from thinking negatively about the circumstances he is in.

6. Keep Gratitude at the Forefront of Your Thoughts and Actions

When it comes to balancing her life, the task of incorporating all of her job duties, her schooling and her time with loved ones into her schedule, Jolley finds balance by reflecting on things she is grateful for.

“Keeping gratitude at the forefront of my thoughts and actions is the biggest thing to live by, because being grateful will always bring about kindness of thought and in return, kind actions to myself and those around me.”

Being grateful to have the opportunity to attend a school, for higher education, to work, doing something you love that provides for your living, to be around those you love, helps mitigate the pressures of life’s responsibilities.

Writer Ralph Waldo Emerson explains gratitude: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Just like Jolley practices keeping gratitude at the forefront of her thoughts and actions, Emerson acknowledged that it is an individual’s choice to create a habit of being grateful for their experiences. It is gratitude that brings about recognizing where you are in the moment, realizing that others may want to be where you are and that you made the individual choice to be where you are right now.

7. Rest

Too much going and going deprives you of what you need most in order to recharge — rest.

A study about sleep was performed on 40,000 people from around the world by the neuroscientists from Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute. Their study concluded: “Preliminary results from the world’s largest sleep study have shown that people who sleep on average between 7-8 hours per night performed better cognitively than those who slept less, or more, than this amount.”

Not getting enough sleep will be detrimental to your learning. A highly functioning cognitive presence will enable you to think, reason and remember what you are learning while you are in school. It will also allow you to be more present when you are checking off your list of priorities when you are not in school.

Efficiency is key. Being fully present in your surroundings depends on the amount of sleep you get at night. Some things may need to be revisited on your list of importance if a lack of rest begins to hinder your health and learning.

Remember to practice self-love — allow yourself time to take a break. Schedule in time with loved ones and activities that are important to you. Change is inevitable, so be open to allowing shifts within your schedule. Focus on your studies by making sure you get enough sleep at night and be grateful that you have the opportunity to learn a new skill.

Excel in Massage Therapy School

By following these steps, you’ll be able to find balance — which is what you need to do your best in massage school.

About the Author

Amra Lear is a dual-licensed massage therapist and esthetician. She started her career in 1999 at Canyon Ranch Spa Club at the Venetian and has since transitioned to a high-end resort on the Las Vegas Strip. She has more than 30 certifications in massage modalities and esthetics, has knowledge of more than 100 modalities, and is a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved continuing education provider. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “Offer Clients an Upgrade: 6 Simple Spa Treatments to Add to a Massage Session” and “The Massage Lubricant You Use Really Does Matter.”