How Do You Mentally and Physically Self-Care?

['Round the Table]

I follow the advice I give to my clients: make “me time” every day. Tending to myself is the best way I can be a whole and healthy therapist for my clients. My favorite “me time” activities are simply sitting quietly and enjoying morning solitude, spending time with my animals, and expressing gratitude for the smallest and most commonplace things in life.

Linda Maureen Sanches

Livermore, California


Over the years and through trial and error, I continue to develop a toolbox of sorts to help take care of myself. While always trying to cultivate a good dose of self-awareness, I will implement what I might need. Some of the support I offer myself may include exercise, proper nutrition, quiet time, talking things over with a trusted [friend], taking a day off (and enjoying it), time in the sunshine, aromatherapy, and of course, I schedule regular massages.

I believe that this profession has a hidden blessing. It demands that we take care of ourselves or we simply will not thrive as massage therapists.

Maryanne Gilbert

Golden, Colorado


When I first began working as a massage therapist, I was working as an independent contractor 4–5 days (approximately 18–22 clients) a week. My body took the toll after a while and I knew if I wanted to keep this up, taking care of myself was first priority.

So here’s what I did: each day I returned home from seeing clients, I would do a hot/cold bath for my arms and hands. Filling one side of the sink with steaming hot water and the other with ice cubes and icy cold water, I would immerse my arms all the way to my elbows in each side for 1–2 minutes, then switch to the other side, continuing back and forth. I received massages twice a month with the studio I was working at or I would find a trade. I would have them scheduled in advance so that I wouldn’t miss one.

And finally, I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my ego and told it that it was OK to set boundaries on how many clients I could see without becoming exhausted. I let go of one day at the studio and took a yoga class on that day instead.

Amy Ashburn

Emeryville, California


I don’t like to exercise, but I knew if I wanted to keep working at a job I loved, I better get on the ball! Just a minimal amount each week has made a huge difference in strengthening my muscles; I no longer have that hip pain that used to bother me. This has also helped mentally by giving me the confidence that I can work as much as I want and still feel good, and it gives me more energy so I drink less coffee.

Don’t worry if you can’t exercise as often or as much as you want; just do something each week and give yourself a pat on the back for that.

Naomi Bergner

Brevard, Florida


Being active, I had to modify my schedule so that I did not paddle or lift weights just before or after massaging. Also, I coach and receive massage at student clinics to learn new techniques and revive my body. I worked for physical therapists and now perform chair massage about eight hours per week through an employer. This, along with my private practice with several favorite modalities (barefoot, trigger point, myofascial release, Swedish, and craniosacral) have allowed me to mentally and physically cross-train to keep myself healthy and interested, and my clients saying wonderful things—quite a change from the less positive working conditions and attitudes in bridge construction engineering, from which I fully migrated last year. I am happy now, but respect my limits.

Paul Svacina

Goleta, California


I have made notes in my charts about the table height I need for any given client. I have these notes kept on a separate form in each chart. I can also include notes about special events in the lives of my clients here. Let’s face it—my memory isn’t what it could be for things like this, so the notes are a lifesaver, both for my mind and my body.

Heather Seals

Dallas, Oregon

Mentally I care for myself by spending time every morning and evening appreciating how fortunate I am to have so much love in my life. In the morning, while I savor my first cup of tea, I spend time with my four pets. Each of my girls—Sophie, Bailey, Sasha, and Minne—offers unconditional love in her own special way and helps me become grounded.

I think about my daughters and how they have become compassionate women. At the end of each day, I spend time with the love of my life, my husband Ted. We just spend time being together. It’s a great way to end each day.

Physically I care for myself by paying attention to my body, stretching throughout the day, trying to make healthy choices in my diet, and getting massage regularly.

Nita Achelpohl

Troy, Missouri


Bikram yoga! I find it to be that most effective yoga I have tried thus far. It is so cleansing to the body and leaves you feeling light. It is challenging mentally, but I think I need that at times. It helps me out both mentally and physically.

I do understand massage is such a giving profession and at times I feel drained, but pampering myself keeps me going. A hot cup of cocoa or a night alone with a good book. I think just knowing your boundaries is helpful in staying vital.

Joelle Arnold

Crested Butte, Colorado


One of the greatest changes I’ve made in my profession as a day spa massage therapist is dropping down to three days per week. Since the demanding pace and rigorous schedule of a busy day spa takes its toll both physically and mentally, I supplement my income with teaching, spa consultation, and private sessions. I worried for some time that I just wasn’t physically cut out for a decade of bodywork, or that I may have to leave a profession I love due to burnout and physical discomfort. Luckily, I have been able to strike a balance between my physical and financial needs, which allows me to continue my hands-on work and to spread my love of massage to new students entering the field. That’s the beauty of what we do; the hours are flexible and possibilities are endless.

Bozena Barton

Los Angeles, California


I see no difference between mental and physical self-care. Eat well, sleep well, exercise regularly. There’s no big secret. I’m a bodyworker, personal trainer, and former yoga instructor, and in my opinion, the absolute finest self-care approach is circular strength training (CST), a health-oriented approach to fitness that covers everything a bodyworker needs. CST is a more complete and better integrated approach than yoga, tai chi, or Pilates. Regular CST practice dramatically improves breathing habits and one’s ability to stay calm and grounded.

Jason Erickson

Eagan, Minnesota


I definitely practice what I preach. I have weekly massages and chiropractic maintenance every 6–8 weeks. These two modalities keep me in prime form as a therapist. Stretching is a daily practice that keeps me limber and in touch with my body. I love my practice as a registered massage therapist, certified reflexologist, and Thai massage practitioner with my intro level.

The key balance for me is to listen to my body and book my schedule accordingly. My intention is to always provide a treatment that I myself would love and enjoy; it’s the old adage “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is the Golden Rule and the best advice on how to live your life.

Cathy Baldwin-Wilson

New Brunswick, Canada