Flames Climb Higher Than Hands

Those who do therapeutic massage are well aware of the statistics in the field. Burnout is a huge problem amongst therapists.

What I have often heard from people is that massage is too hard to do enough of it to be secure financially and take care of one’s personal needs as well. I’ve also heard from folks who don’t have much commitment to the field that they are surprised when it turns out massage is work, and they stay in the hobby-job cloud.

I have also heard the burnout complaint from therapists, who don’t charge enough, spend too much on frills or never take a vacation. I’ve never heard it from my core group of friends who have been practicing for nearly 20 years.

So I’m a bit surprised to say that this week I felt burnt out. Yes, dark and twisted like a used paper match. Done inside and out. Phhhht! burnout

There, I said it. I feel fried!

But I do take vacations – and the occasional mental health day – and I also vary the types of massages I do, and now I even limit the number of massages I do a week. I also coach other therapists and test them on techniques… what on earth is going on?

I think this tiredness is more than just needing a vacation. Next Steps: the self-audit, then the friend audit.

Here’s my list: Eating right? Exercising? Sleeping well? Time for me? Time for non-massage activities? Getting massage once a week? Going for acupuncture or chiro? Am I crabby?

OK, I flunked a bunch of those questions. I had a flood in my house early this year and my days off have been spent dealing with contractors, tossing, organizing and cleaning…my whole holistic schedule went phhhht. I realized the last time I did tai chi was at New Year’s break. So I have been rolling along thinking I was handling all this stuff, and it has caught up with me. One cannot be a balanced therapist without a balanced life.

My friend’s audit was a bit worse. I have been positively snappy when dealing with all the extra chores. Apparently I get up in the morning before work and like one possessed I crank right into my to-do list. Before work.

Well, the list is going bye-bye for now. I’ve booked a massage, a session with my counselor and my tai chi sensei. I’ve been acting like I lived on the kind of schedule my clients come in to undo. Lesson learned!

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4 thoughts on “Flames Climb Higher Than Hands

  1. Barbara Taylor Hancock

    Oh, that was me last week!! I have been working 2 jobs since May, finishing up school to actually change careers into Health Informatics. My son and husband have been going through chemotherapy, I have been working on MVA’s. And guess what? My empathy button broke….I did not want to hear another whiney patient telling me (after 7 sessions) that they are not feeling any better, how that can’t do simple things, blah, blah, blah……this is the first time I have ever ever felt a disdain for someone on the table…..I guess I need counseling, but I need full health benefits too. I have been getting chiropractor and massage 90 mins every two weeks. That has helped, but still, my button won’t turn on. Thank you for your revelation. I am 20 years. I will transition into another modality other ways to massage, maybe even move back into the “hobby” cloud.

  2. Pam Bright

    Thank you for telling it like it is, really! I am also a therapist in the biz for 20 + years. And I definitely have found that taking care of myself isn’t just a good idea,it’s necessary!

  3. carol


    Yet I love to do massage it’s an art form and healing and the money is good..
    Plus the more I do the stronger my energy from touch ,doesn’t hurt for building up muscles
    On the body either…

  4. Sue Peterson Post author

    Interesting replies….burn-out isn’t unknown in any profession, but especially caring ones such as massage. Empathy buttons do break, and yes, it takes some empathy to know that and do something to refresh your energies. “Nuff said.


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