As a massage therapist, you spend your days dealing with the needs of other people. Does anyone have to tell you to eat healthy food, exercise, manage your stress (you do get regular massage, right?), and get enough sleep as part of your self care?
Let's go beyond basic self care for massage therapists to look at ways to live a life of joy and purpose.
Does a massage therapy career give you a sense of joy and purpose? If not, why are you in the profession? The greatest waste is that of a life spent on unfulfilling work and activities.
However, it's important to remember that joy and purpose aren't destinations; they are the quality of your life journey. Journeys sometimes have detours through swamps and minefields that lead to marvelous places you couldn't otherwise have reached. For example, in one of his books, Michael J. Fox writes about how Parkinson's Disease has been a great gift.
Let's look at tips for self care for massage therapists I believe are most important in creating a life of joy and purpose:
Listen to your heart. Know your passions and priorities, making sure they are really yours and not someone (mom, hubby, etc.) else's. If you can clear away the clutter and noise from outside yourself, you know who you are and how you can create a fulfilling life. Take this guidance from Carlos Casteneda's The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge:
If you notice a negative thought, take a step back from it, witness
it, and don't follow it. Be aware of negative thoughts you have about
yourself—challenge them, are they really true? In Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, Byron Katie provides a four-question structure you can use to challenge a thought:
The way in which you see the world matters. In Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change, Shawn Achor looks at happiness based on the research of positive psychology. He discusses multiple realities and how to choose the reality that's most valuable for you. It doesn't mean ignoring your problems but using everything to your benefit.
Part of setting priorities is saying no to requests that don't fit your priorities. No need to explain or apologize. If you prefer, you can say you have other priorities at the moment. If someone comes back with a snide, "You need to get your priorities straight," ignore the person.
Surround yourself with supportive, like-minded people. People who don't
respect your priorities aren't supportive. As much as possible, stay
away from people who are negative and try to drag you down or to keep
you where you are, when you know you want to be someplace different. The
energy of happy, positive people will affect you in a positive way.
Encourage inner peace by connecting to what you find spiritual. Meditation works for a lot of people and has many documented benefits. Prayer can also cultivate inner peace. Two good books from this vantage point are Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices by Thich Nhat Hanh and The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by the Dalai Lama.
If your life in this moment isn't as you want it to be, accept where you are and do what you have to do. But don't focus on the things you don't want. Instead, focus on what you do want and tell your life story of how you want things to be. A few simple tips to get started:
To help you with this process, read supportive books. You'll find the ones that resonate most with you, but two authors I suggest to get started are Wayne Dyer (particularly Excuses Begone) and Esther and Jerry Hicks (any of the teachings of Abraham books, though I especially like Money and the Law of Attraction). The Internet also has a wealth of material; search for and read topics that interest and resonate with you.
Take self care for massage therapists beyond the basics and create the life you want as you pursue your massage therapy career.
Photo Credit: DTTSP