It's Time to Take Care of You

By Rebecca Jones
[Ten for Today]

1. Take a moment
Self-care can be as simple as enjoying a fresh apple or soaking in your favorite bath salts. Even a moment or two of pampering during a stressful day can spare us from burnout, and a regular regimen of self-care can feed the soul in ways that benefit not just an individual therapist, but that therapist’s clients, friends, and family as well. Best of all, it’s a campaign that can be waged on many fronts, with steps both great and small.

2. Eat right
Proper self-care starts with the fuel we put in our bodies. Building a diet around healthful, nutritious foods while avoiding excess sugar and processed ingredients is an obvious step toward well-being.
Beyond that, more esoteric diet strategies may appeal to you. For example, Ayurveda, an ancient wellness system from India, teaches that the best diets are based on an understanding of each person’s unique dosha, or body-mind type. Once you know your dosha—earth, water, or fire—you can more easily find and keep balance within yourself by eating the appropriate foods. Sweet or raw foods, for example, may help provide balance to someone prone to irritability or anger, green leafy vegetables with a hint of bitterness may balance a tendency toward passivity, while stimulating herbs such as cloves or cinnamon can counteract a feeling of lethargy.
“Nutrition can be so grounding and healing,” says Amy Keller, national education leader for Organic India USA, a Colorado-based company specializing in sustainable wellness products imported from rural India. “When we’re out of balance, our primary dosha goes one way or another, so it’s important to nourish ourselves with the right things.”

3. Keep it comfy
Well-fitting clothing is important. Just ask anyone who has spent too many hours in too-tight, movement-restricting apparel. Ideally, we’d all walk around in our favorite sweat pants and loose T-shirt, but our clients will likely appreciate a more professional look. Just make sure your work (or workout) attire doesn’t torment you.
“When you’re trying to concentrate on something, your clothing can pull you away from that with a snag, a pull, a tag,” says Andre Walker, director of interactive media and influencers for PrAna, a Carlsbad, California-based line of active clothing. “The most common complaint we hear is about tags. It seems like a simple thing, yet how many times do we buy clothing with tags as opposed to a printed label that won’t irritate the skin?”

4. Use high-quality personal care products
Even before dressing in the morning, a spray of something refreshing or a swipe with something pure and clean can help you feel better all day. Elizabeth Wasserman, founder of True Goods, a “consciously curated” collection of nontoxic, socially and ecologically responsible goods, says top-quality personal care products are luxuries that pay long-term dividends.
“How do you move to the next level? How do you move to better health and pampering at the same time?” Wasserman asks. She suggests something like Dianne’s Organic Fresh Mint Wash ($12.95 for 8 ounces), made with organic coconut, olive, and jojoba oils and a peppermint essential oil blend. “Using personal care products, and enjoying them not just because of how they smell or feel, but also knowing they’re truly safe for you, is an easy way of really taking care of yourself,” she says. “It’s improving your health without having to do anything extra.”

5. Drink more tea
There are so many different kinds of tea that there’s sure to be one good for whatever ails you. Drinking it helps you stay hydrated, and a substance found in tea, l-theanine, has been shown to promote alpha waves in the brain, reduce physical and mental stress, improve focus, and boost mood. Tea also has vastly more disease-fighting antioxidants and flavonoids than any other drink. “Our Tulsi infusion tea comes from a plant also called holy basil,” says Chris Olsen, director of marketing and product development for Teatulia, a Denver-based organic tea company. “If you’re having one of those off-balance days, it will rebalance you.”

6. Meditate
Meditation may be a difficult practice for some, but it’s undeniably stress relieving. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Many massage therapists find playing a guided meditation album during a massage helps both client and therapist relax. “When a guided meditation is playing, telling the client how to breathe, what to focus on, the therapist also starts to pay attention to breathing and becomes more grounded,” says Ellen Makarewicz-Ely, founder of Mind-Full Massage, based in Flint, Michigan. “And when you’re both more grounded, the massage becomes easier. We absorb clients’ anxiety, stress, and frustration, so when the client is letting that go, it makes it better for the therapist, too.”

7. Put on some music
Music’s soothing charms are well documented. But forget the notion that the most relaxing music has the same number of beats per minute as the heart. “That’s bogus, because everybody’s heartbeat is different,” says John Gelb, president of At Peace Media, which has been creating relaxing soundtracks for massage therapists since 1998. Instead, he says, what seems to be most pleasing to people is music played on real instruments by real people, not synthesized or computer-generated. The most relaxing music also avoids certain noises, particularly bells, he says. “Bells make people feel like they’re late for something, or missing an appointment, or there’s someone at the door.”

8. A welcoming space
Make sure your massage space has a positive energy to it, advises feng shui expert Lisa Janusz, faculty member at Wind and Water School of Feng Shui. If you can, paint it a color you love, and put something that represents a goal or a dream up on the wall or in a space that’s easily visible. “Maybe it’s memorabilia from a vacation, or a picture of somewhere you want to go,” she says. “It will provide you with good feelings and inspiration.”

9. Get rid of clutter
The effect of clutter is huge, Janusz says. “Releasing old items allows for new opportunities to come in. Sometimes, we just keep things out of guilt. But if you’ve outgrown something, give that object the opportunity to have exciting new energy from someone else.”

10. Be intentional
Start each morning thinking about what you hope to accomplish that day, and at day’s end, reflect on what has happened. That’s one way to ensure you really are getting the care you need to fuel yourself and your passions, Janusz says. “It’s a chance to ask yourself, what can I incorporate into my life tomorrow?”

Rebecca Jones is a tenured Massage & Bodywork freelance writer. She lives and writes in Denver, Colorado. Contact her at

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