Massage Magazine

Rachel Beider in Massage Magazine: 7 Effective Ways to Manage Your Stress


Everyone faces stress; however, studies show that some people are afflicted more than others.

For instance, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), women report feeling slightly more stressed than men, with an average stress rating of 5.3 on a 10-point scale as opposed to 4.9 from their male counterparts.

Furthermore, millennial stress levels are almost double that of “matures,” with scores of 6.0 and 3.5 respectfully.

While it’s only natural to experience some sort of stress in life, the problem with this particular emotion is that it can negatively affect your health, if it’s allowed to accumulate over time.

Case in point: the APA goes on to reveal that, along with higher stress levels, U.S. adults also have poorer levels of health than ever before. In fact, almost one in four label their health as either “fair” or “poor,” a number that is up four percentage points from just three years prior.

Certainly, there’s no way to get rid of stress entirely. However, there are quite a few things you can do to help ease it before it starts to affect your quality of life. Here are seven (and one extra) that work for other massage therapy experts, so you may want to give them a try.

1. Practice Time Management

Time management is really the key to creating balance in life,” says Amanda Mittan, Massage Therapy Program Director at Carrington College. “Making sure you don’t overextend yourself as a practitioner is so important to career longevity.”

If this is an area where you typically struggle, motivational speaker and self-development author Brian Tracy offers several tips to better manage your time. Among them are to take care of small tasks immediately when they arise, prioritizing your tasks so you always handle the most important ones first, and limiting your distractions so you can focus and get things done.

2. Seek Variety

Another stress-relieving tip offered by Mittan is to change up your routine. Incorporate variety into your day and you likely won’t feel so stressed out. One way to do this is to constantly learn new things, even if those new things involve massage therapy.

“The more disciplines of massage you study, the more diverse your work day will be,” says Mittan. “I love clinic work, but I know I can’t do that all the time so I integrate spa, sports, and Eastern theory into my practice to keep my skills in check and also to give my body the times to relax while I work.”

3. Spend Time in Nature

“I am really lucky to live in San Diego [California], where I can enjoy the ocean and our beautiful canyons,” says Kathleen Lisson, C.L.T., C.M.T., owner of Solace Massage and Mindfulness and author of Swollen, Bloated and Puffy. Lisson says walking every day helps her clear her head, something she has placed more focus on after being diagnosed with skin cancer in 2016.

“I knew it was time to lower my stress levels,” says Lisson.

What do you do if you live in an area that doesn’t have Southern California’s notoriously beautiful views?

“If there is no ocean or park near you, join a garden club,” suggests Lisson. “I volunteer pulling weeds in a public garden once a week and it gets me in contact with the earth. I can watch the plants grow, flower, and die back, immersing myself in nature’s rhythm.”

4. Engage in Guided or Silent Meditation

Another stress-relief tactic that Lisson uses is meditation. “I meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, most often in the morning right after I wake up,” says Lisson. “This relaxes me and lets me bring a peaceful attitude into my day instead of becoming overwhelmed with the things I have to do to run a massage practice.”

Lisson uses the free app Insight Timer, which has over 6,700 guided meditations, music tracks, talks and courses. If you prefer to meditate in silence, you can simply use the app’s timer to set your desired session duration. You can also set different interval bells, ambient sounds and ending bells.

5. Take Relaxing Breaths

Relinda Reynozo, lead massage therapist at The Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, says breathing to pre-selected counts delivers a body-relaxing response. “I inhale to a count of six, hold it for a count of three, and exhale to a count of seven,” says Reynozo. “I do this three times in a row just about every night before bed.”

Not only can relaxation breathing make you feel less stressed, but the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health shares that engaging in relaxation techniques such as this can also have positive effects by reducing your risk of or symptoms associated with several physical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few.

6. Stay Physically Active

Rachel Beider, L.M.T., owner of Massage Williamsburg and Massage Greenpoint, both in Brooklyn, New York, finds that staying physically active helps her reduce stress levels. “I find it’s important to engage in physical activities at least two to three days a week,” says Beider, who finds solace in both spin classes and weight training.

The American Council on Exercise shares that exercise reduces stress in four different ways.

First, it lowers your anxiety levels. Second, the neurotransmitters and endorphins it releases creates a relaxation response, which also leaves you in a better mood. Third, it increases your feelings of self-worth; and, fourth, it encourages you to eat healthier, which helps ease your stress as well.

7. Get Regular Massages

Although this should go without saying, the one response that was received most often when asking a number of massage therapists about how to relieve stress was to get regular massages.

Take some time and treat yourself to the same form of stress relief that you provide to your clients daily.

That’s what Joann D’Armetta, L.M.T., with Advanced Wellness in Marlboro and Parlin, New Jersey, suggests because it offers two benefits in one.

“Not only will you be effectively reducing your own stress, but at the same time you can pick up some great techniques from the therapist giving you the massage,” says D’Armetta. “It’s a win-win situation!”

One Final “Extra” Tip…

Melody Althaus, L.M.T. with Here & Now Wellness Massage in Orange County, California sums up stress relief in one simple statement: “Do whatever makes you feel happy. Whether it’s doing some form of exercise, meditation, craft or hobby, just make sure you’re taking the time for you daily.”

Some massage therapists start their day with stress-relieving activities and others place them at the end. Wherever you decide to take advantage of yours, the key is to do them and to do them often.

In other words, make it a point to get rid of your stress before your stress threatens to get rid of you.

Article by Christina DeBusk for Massage Magazine


I contributed to this article in Massage Magazine by Christina DeBusk

When it comes to journaling, people tend to either love it or hate it, according to those who frequently write about the subject.

If you love it, then you likely already know the value this particular activity can provide.

But if you fall into the latter category and just can’t seem to get yourself to sit down and put your feelings on paper, you might just change your mind once you understand how much this one action can benefit you and your massage therapy business.

Benefits of Journaling as a Massage Therapist

Journaling is probably best known for its psychological benefits. New York’s University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) lists a few of them on its website, some of which include: easing anxiety, reducing stress and relieving depression.

URMC also stresses how journaling has positive effects on your mood. This is beneficial in massage therapy because most clients prefer a happy therapist versus a therapist who seems angry or sad.

A good mood tends to be contagious, enabling you to have an even more positive effect on the health and welfare of your clients.

Basically, when you’re relaxed and in a good place mentally as a massage therapist, your clients will find it easier to be more relaxed and in a better mental space when they’re with you. You’re also better able to focus on reading your client’s body, because you won’t be sidetracked by negative emotions floating in and out of your head during your massage sessions.

Journaling has physical benefits as well. In an article published by Psych CentralMaud Purcell, L.C.S.W., C.E.A.P., shares that research confirms this , noting that various studies have connected the act of journaling with healthier immune cell response, fewer symptomatic issues with conditions like asthma, and partial relief of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Additionally, in February 2010, a literature review was published in the American Journal of Public Health and it looked at a variety of creative outlets and the impact they had on physical health.

What the researchers discovered is that those who express themselves regularly have reported experiencing greater control of their physical pain, less fatigue, fewer sleep issues and improvements related to physical disabilities, just to name a few.

How can you enjoy all of these benefits, mental and physical, especially if you’re new to the art journaling?

Fortunately, the answer to this question is fairly simple as it involves following a short, 3-step process.

Step 1: Decide Your Journaling Type

Typically when people hear the word “journal,” they envision a notebook full of lines, which is where you place your thoughts, feelings and concerns expressed in words. While this traditional form of journaling is probably still one of the most used formats today, other types of journals do exist. One is a visual journal.

Covers from Kathy Morelli’s visual journal

A visual journal is a journal where you use images, pictures, shapes and patterns to convey whatever is on your mind. Kathy Morelli, L.M.T., C.A., L.P.C., is both a massage therapist and a licensed professional counselor in Wayne, New Jersey, and she says that she has been visual journaling for almost 50 years, starting when she was just 12 years old.

“I write and also use magazine pictures, oils pastels, markers, and colored pencils to express fluid emotionality, in a right brain type of way,” says Morelli. “This helps me ground myself, to think things through, [and] to explore issues with both my right and left brain … logically and emotionally.”

How do you know which type of journal—a word journal or a visual journal—is right for you?

If you find it relatively easy to communicate what you’re feeling and thinking using your language of choice, then a word journal is probably the way to go.

However, if you find more release in creating some type of imagery, such as by painting or drawing, then you’ll probably find a visual journal more helpful to getting your feelings out.

Step 2: Determine Your Journal Size (Think Logistics)

A second factor to consider when journaling is logistics. In other words, what size journal will work best for you given wherever it is you intend to use it?

Ideally, you don’t want one that is so big that you’ll never get it out and use it, but you also don’t want one so small that you’re constantly losing or misplacing it.

Morelli says that, while her journal of choice is actually a large spiral sketchbook, she does have more than one, keeping an 8 x 11-inch journal for travel and a larger 16 x 25-inch journal for home. When selecting the size of your journal then, think about where it is you intend to journal and make your decision from there.

If you will always journal at home, for instance, then you can probably get away with something that is larger in size because you won’t have to move it.

Or, you can do what Morelli does and use two, one for travel and one for when you’re in the comfort of your own surroundings.

Step 3: Ask (And Answer) the Right Questions

Once you have your journal and are ready to use it, the next and final step is to decide what you’re going to journal about. Rachel Beider, L.M.T., is the owner of Massage Williamsburg, and she says that, while she uses her small, portable notebook to help her “stay on top of my dreams, goals, and emotional check-ins,” it’s the questions that she answers in her journal that help push her in the right direction.

“A question that often comes up for me as inspiration to journal is: What has shifted?” shares Beider. “Sometimes noticing these small, subtle changes is helpful for me and helps me answer much bigger questions while staying on a path that’s true to my values and goals.”

Essentially, this is the heart of journaling, which is to figure out what is going on inside of you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This helps you correct any problems you face, resolve any impending issues that have been bothersome, and ease your troubled mind.

When all is said and done, journaling not only makes you feel better mentally and physically, but it also helps you become a better massage therapist, keeping you in tune with yourself so you can also be more in tune with your clients. That makes it an action that is worth doing, even if you don’t initially like it.

Who knows? You may just change your mind when you see what a positive impact it has on your personal and professional life.