Self care - so you can care for your clients.

You are only as good to others as you are to yourself.

I first learned this lesson over 10 years ago.  I was a massage therapist at a 5 star resort in Santa Barbara, CA overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.  My clientele included Coretta Scott King, Pierce Brosnan and Penelope Cruz just to name a few. This was the life; I was earning money while working on the rich and famous.  How could it get any better than this?  I didn’t realize I was constantly giving both physically and emotionally through this work.  Helping my clientele with their ailments and lending an ear to their issues. 

After working at the resort for over 2 years performing 30+ massages a week I developed chronic sciatica.  The cause was a bulging disc in my lower back from the exact work I was doing.  I continued to work through the unbearable pain.  Then it hit me one day during a massage as I stood there in excruciating pain I asked myself, “How can I make others feel good when I am in pain myself?”  I didn’t learn self care in massage school, and it wasn’t required at work.  I needed to put my health and well being first.  It was my responsibility; no one else was going to do it for me.

Here are 3 great ways to focus on self-care in the salon and spa industry, so that you may have a long and prosperous career beautifying and helping others feel good:

1)   Take regular breaks – make sure you advocate for yourself and create a schedule that allows for time throughout your day to replenish your energy (eat a snack, do some stretches, go on a walk, etc.)

2)   Stretch – The following are some excellent stretches that will help to loosen stiff fingers, hands and wrists.  If completed daily for a few months, hands will gain strength and flexibility!

Finger & Wrist Stretch

Step 1: Starting with the right hand gently extend the fingers back one by one.

Step 2: Then take them all back at the same time. This helps to stretch open your palm. Repeat several times.

Step 3: Take your thumb back towards your wrist. Then bring it forwards, stretching gently and firmly. Never force it. Finish by making a fist and slowly opening it, stretching your fingers and thumb out as far as you.

Step 4: Put your palms together, fingers pointing upwards, as if you were praying. Stretch your fingers and press palms together strongly. Keep the base of your palms pressing together, as you gradually lower your hands until your lower arms are horizontal.                                                                      

Step 5: Then take your hands down still further, fingers and upper palms together. You should feel the stretch on the insides of your fingers and wrists. Hold for a few seconds, and then repeat.