One of the things that has been the hardest to learn for me in this massage therapy journey (and life, too, for that matter) is the value of boundaries. I tend to be too open most of the time. I suck at lying, and subterfuge has never been a strong suit.
So I always just live right out there in the open. Open heart, open mind, open. I thought that having lots of boundaries would let me wall myself in smaller and smaller until there was no freedom, just this tiny cage I’d built for myself. Openness, I’d decided, was the only way to live.
For the first couple years as a massage therapist, I operated my practice that way as well and it seemed to work.
The thing that I never expected that a sudden influx of clients would do is really teach me how to hold something back for my own good. I had decided to go with one of those social sharing coupons to get my name and business “out there” after moving to my most recent location. It’s been delightful and painful and awesome and a huge push towards growth of myself and my business all at the same time.
In the beginning of the scheduling, I had decided to be as open as possible and trying to accommodate folks all the time, forgetting that if I don’t leave daily space for myself and my family things were going to get pretty tight physically and emotionally. Not just for me, but for the people I love as well.
I did remember to schedule myself a little time off for a couple weekends, but otherwise I filled up every minute that I didn’t need to be sleeping. I just spent this last weekend off and now coming back, it’s all thrown into sharp relief.
How I have been a little too open, and too accommodating, and it’s worn me out physically and emotionally. I’ve been absent from family and friends and anything not related to “work”.
Time Off Epiphany
For the most part, massage has never felt like “work” to me, I get to hang out with folks and help them feel better all while doing moving meditation. But throughout the months of May and June it started to feel like work. I began to be worried that I couldn’t keep going like this and if I thought this was rough, how would I handle being a full-time therapist without the day job?
Now that I’m back into the swing, I can see that having a better defined set of boundaries could have kept me from getting too worn out. Part of it is a struggle because while I’m still a part-time therapist, I just don’t have as much time to give. Which means that my schedule may book up quickly. It could be a couple weeks before folks could get in. And I need to get comfortable with that.
Because I need some me back in my life. And I can’t be me when I’m worn out all the time and focused on my business constantly. Time to make some room for the things that help me keep sane and healthy. So I can go back to having a part-time career that doesn’t feel like work at all. Solid boundaries, or fences if you will, will mean a healthier and happier me which is better for my clients as well as myself.
Bringing It Home
How about you? How many times do you let your schedule get too full? You run and run and run and find yourself exhausted and grouchy for no reason. Life loses its luster and everything takes monumental effort, whether its cooking a frozen pizza or that 5 hour planning meeting at the office or just getting out of bed.
I’d suggest a nice Staycation. Take some mental health days away from work, unplug your cell phone, step away from the computer and visit the out of doors. And once you get back, maybe work on your ability to say no to some things. Just try it out. You might find, like I have, that a few fences actually make your space feel more open. You could be My Neighbor, Mr. Rogers style.