Stay Fresh

By Robert Chute
[Practitioner Parables]

When you’re freshly minted, it’s difficult to imagine ever doing anything but massage. It’s not just a job, it’s a noble calling. You work with the most complex organic machine in existence. You’ve got missionary zeal oozing out of your pores and you want to massage the world for greater love of life, health, peace, and prosperity. Then, something changes.

One day you realize you’d really rather be doing something else. You’re feeling down. Very down. Perhaps you’re thinking this is the beginning of the end of your career. You may be right.

Many people retire from the profession after just a few years. It may be that the work is too physically demanding or the lack of financial rewards for manual labor is wearing on your psyche. A new career, a downshift, or full retirement may be required.

But, before you jump, examine your reasons. When was the last time you took a fresh look at your life? When was your last vacation? Sometimes all you need is some time away to gain new perspectives on what needs to change.

Sometimes the challenge is more serious than that. Have you lost interest in things that used to bring you pleasure? Is guilt a constant companion? Do you find yourself retreating from your social circle, sleeping too much or too little, or even thinking about hurting yourself? You may suffer from depression but, if so, know that many do. Turn to a specialist for help.

Next: when did you last change things up at work? It’s possible you’re bored because you’re doing the same thing all the time. Continuing education can reinvigorate your practice by giving you more options in your manual therapy toolbox. Try something radically different. If your work is intensely structural, maybe it’s time to check out an energetic form of bodywork. 

Evaluate what needs to change to energize your practice. When you look at your schedule, is there someone who throws your mojo off for the week? If your frustration has something to do with money—and it often does—consider that once you make a change in your situation you’ll free up a lot of time for more positive people in your sphere. If you’re acting like a martyr, that strategy can drive you toward burnout. Martyrdom is unnecessary and serves no one in the long term.

Take what you have and rebuild your foundation. Remember what you love about being a massage therapist and rejuvenate it. You spend too much time at the table to endure things that do not optimize your health, happiness, and practice. Happy therapists are more effective therapists. Decide who you want to be and be that!


Robert Chute has flirted with, and ultimately rejected, burnout. Contact him at