Grooming is a historically stressful career. The beginning to making positive changes in your overall health and inner sense of harmony is managing stress and it’s counterpart, anxiety.
How do we deal with the situations that “pop up” in our work almost every day? What do we do to equip ourselves with the tolerance, patience and adaptability to rise above the occurrences that sometimes bring out the worst in us? And how can we as groomers by profession become groomers by nature?
The first step is to take an honest look at our gender’s personality differences and tenancies. As women, it is second nature for most of us to multi-task- often even as we sleep! This can be an incredible tool for managing the hectic ness in most any grooming day, but it can also leave us feeling spread too thin and physically as well as emotionally spent at the end of a day. As men it is often easier for you to stay focused and objective, and persevere through difficult challenges while not becoming sidetracked with other things that eventually will need your attention. However, this tenancy can also make managing time effectively and productively difficult for some. Stress can be deeply felt and have even more deep influences on both genders, but how each gender and each individual experiences and metabolizes it can be vastly different. What is universal to us all- is the fact that a life lived with less stress is a happier one, indeed.
The next consideration is for what working environment you are part of. Do you work alone? Are you a part of a large staff? Are you a Manager or Officer over others? Besides the obvious factors that these differences can create. There are subtle yet important changes that these positions make on your character not only while at work but away from work as well. For instance- the divorce rate among families with a female head of household who is in a Management position in their career is at a higher overall rate than those with men in Management positions. I know for me it can be difficult to come home to a messy house or rambunctious children and just “turn off” the tenancy to “manage” the situation and “get it in hand” because that is what I have been doing all day at work! It can be hard to shut off that micromanaging part of me that can be tolerated by those that are actually getting PAID to deal with it - but for family - it can be outright annoying! I can easily see how it is hard for some- myself included- to not cause more stress and anxiety for themselves and those around them by being in a Management position and not being able to leave your work at work. As well can I understand how stress can come from being lost in a crowd of co-workers.
Some may be searching for a way to shine, in hopes of advancement or acknowledgement. Others may feel happy to just blend in, do their work and leave it at the door. And still others may have things going on outside of work that they bring to “share” with everyone else- making your day more drama-filled, even if all is quiet on your “Western front”!
Another factor that contributes to stress is your stage of experience in grooming. Are you a veteran in your field or a newbie? Are you a groomer who has groomed forever but feels that something is still “missing” in terms of personal satisfaction? Are you a groomer who is active in seeking out and trying new things? If you are a new groomer, are you in the company of a supportive and proactive teacher or are you often on you own for learning? What will you do now, to get yourself to where you want yourself to be? It is not that hard to take your goals and break them down, working towards them one by one- accomplishing them propels you forward and concentrating on these achievements will give your work far more purpose.
So many things affect our ability to remain positive and proactive in our days at work. But then, what can we do to lessen our feelings of stress even if we are in these situations that cannot be changed or “fixed”?
The first good thing that we can do for ourselves is to get enough rest, genuine rejuvenating sleep, it is alright to lose out on some sleep here & there- but a habit of not getting enough sleep which can be- depending on each person’s sleep cycle anywhere from 5 to 9 hours every night, will land you in the realm of Noddingham- physically sacked and emotionally ready for nothing. Problem solving skills drastically deteriorate as the brain’s time for recycling is cut away. As does one’s hand-eye coordination and reflex ability. Knee-jerk reaction is now at it’s highest incident rate!
It is also proven that not getting enough daylight activity in a normal day can cause serious health repercussions over a long period of time, so if you are a 3rd shift groomer- at the least, be sure to try to get some daylight activity on your days off. Which leads me to my next concern.
Is having one day off enough for you or do you personally not feel refreshed unless you have two days off together? Sit down now and change your schedule to get the time off that you need to come back refreshed- no one else will do it for you!
Do you work full time or part time? If you are full time are you getting at the least a one hour lunch and one or two other breaks during the day? These breaks can be the difference between having the ability to step back & take a deep breath, or standing at your table having a melt down! I can’t stress enough that scheduling yourself time for relaxing and putting your mind on something else will immediately make a marked improvement on your overall feeling of calmness and achievement at the end of a day. Again, you have to take the time and initiative to move your schedule around and get this to happen!
Another thing we need to do is to eat right. Stop and take the time to get SOMETHING into your stomach before you start your day. Obviously everyone’s dietary needs are different, and I will leave that determination up to you- but we all know in honesty where that Ding-Dong and Mt. Dew for breakfast are going to leave us after a couple of hours!
Eating a solid breakfast gives your body and mind the fuel it needs to run efficiently and faithfully, and a good lunch will get you thru the rest of your day. Remember too, that eating a large meal too late at night, for most not after 7PM, will cause your body to hold onto all of those calories and turn them to, well, the “F” word. And skipping dinner will often affect your sleep pattern (as in sneaking to the fridge for ice cream at 3AM!) Also, remember to keep yourself well hydrated- dehydration can cause a plethora of physical ailments. And no- coffee DOES NOT COUNT! (Remember here, too that caffeine, as with many things, is only good in moderation)
And let’s not forget the need for our getting plenty of exercise a few times a week. Well, those who know me will tell you- with exercise I do not practice what I preach! But do as I say- not as I do- because my weight has caused me tons of grief over the years- grief that has robbed me of some opportunities and of reaching some goals I set for myself, it is not fun to look back on anything with regret so, take care of yourself- faithfully, you only get one body in this life, so they say and I do believe.
Other ways to beat stress are to do things like delegate. Delegating is the fine art of maintaining your own sanity while utilizing the natural ability of others. We should all help each other out, it teaches us to think of others with empathy and compassion, and it shows us just how far we can all get if we work together.
Another way to help your stress level is to actively give yourself a “time out”. You may accompany this with a personal “pep talk”. Either over your morning coffee (if you are exceptionally NOT a morning person), after you have just acted like a jerk to someone (or someone has been a jerk to you and you are about to retaliate), or as you lay in bed ready to drift off to sleep. Be sure to recap the day thus far, look at what happened to get you to the point you are at (angry, tired or complacent) and ask yourself what you could have done differently, what you did really well, and what you want to avoid ever having happen again, and how will you make these things happen? Dramatizing doesn’t always have to be done in the form of thinking of something that would’ve been a really good comeback after the fact; usually it is best used to explore your options with objectivity that you don’t usually get at the spur of the moment. So, think ahead of what you will do if- (insert some conundrum here). It will help you to react more level headed and even keeled the next time!
Remember, one of the best ways to feel as if what stress you DO have to cope with is still worthwhile is by getting the proper amount or financial gain for the work that you do. If you feel that you are getting what you are worth after a hard day’s work- it can be easier to get up and do it again tomorrow.
Here are a few more ways to help make positive changes to your work environment:
v Play music- music that YOU like, not just what the clients will like.
v Try lighting a candle. Candles soften the presence of any room and absolutely everyone looks beautiful by candlelight!
v Take some time to find out about aromatherapy. Studies have proven that aromatherapy and essences benefit and alter one’s mood and mental state through olfactory stimulation. You can use a plug in diffuser, an atomizer or scented candles to fill your work area with the scents that compliment your personality and give you support with what you need on any given day.
v Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. If your feet hurt- everything hurts. If your wardrobe is repulsive- everyone else’s eyes hurt!
v Take some time to do your hair or makeup. I only very rarely wear makeup- as I am naturally beautiful- but I do my hair every day. And I will tell you- whether it is full of Golden Retriever fur or not- I feel much better with how I present myself for my clients- and I think they do, too! I certainly think it does help with tips!
v Try deep breathing- no, I don’t mean hyperventilating- but, rather try taking a few deep, purposeful breaths a few times every day. You can do this at your table, on your break, before sleeping... This raises the level of oxygen present in your circulatory system this has all kinds of positive benefits! Including being light headed- which can be fun!
v Try taking a different route to work (DO NOT GET LOST!), try noticing some of the smaller things in your surroundings- this will always help you to remember that you are just a part of the big picture, and that there is beauty there for us to enjoy if we just look.
v Get organized. Clean out those jumbled toolbox drawers, revamp your client check in schedule, do a mini makeover of some part of your salon. The newness will break up any dulldrums and it will add some excitement if you forgot where you put something!
v Learn to say NO. And be ok with it! We cannot do EVERYTHING- so why even try? And yes, someone CAN do it just as good as you- or at least good enough!
v Don’t sweat the small stuff. Really- and it is ALL small stuff.
Grooming days always fly by- it is one of the advantages of working in what we do- but, before you know it, the days turn into weeks, and then to months, and eventually to years. Are they years of enjoyment and fulfilling your creative need or will they be lost to head down, red faced and frantic rushing all day every day? Starting to sit down right now and make the changes that will last us a lifetime is all we can do to lessen our stress and its affects on our life. Getting some return out of all that we will always put in will give our hard work more meaning. We all have had to do what needed to be done to get through a day or the Holiday rush- but having a light at the end of the tunnel can keep us focused and hopeful of when we can finally get a break.