Transformation is Possible

A sound self-care strategy supports your massage career longevity

It’s been said over and over, but bears repeating because it’s so important to your career longevity: Massage therapy can be a demanding profession— physically, emotionally and mentally—and you need a sound and consistent self-care strategy to help keep your whole person healthy.

At the AMTA 2017 National Convention, we’ll kick off and close our time in Pasadena, California, with speakers who will help support you in establishing a self-care regimen that will keep you in the massage therapy profession for as long as you choose to practice.

In the following, we’ll introduce you to both our Opening Session and Closing Session Keynote Speakers—Shaun T and Shawn Achor—who will give you a sneak peek at what you can expect at this year’s convention.

Shaun T

As a world-renowned health and fitness expert, Shaun T has developed best-selling fitness programs like Insanity and hosts a podcast called “Trust and Believe,” in which he aims to help people live their best lives by making positive lifestyle changes. Bringing his energy and enthusiasm to this year’s Opening Session, he’ll help attendees learn how to incorporate both emotional self-care and physical fitness and wellness into their massage therapy career and day-to-day life.

Here, Shaun T answers some questions about how he personally practices self-care, his biggest source of personal motivation and why some people hold themselves back—and what they can do to tap their potential.

What comes to mind for you when you think of self-care?

Shaun T: The average person wakes up, jumps in their car and goes to work. They sit at a desk, or even if they’re not at a desk, they’re stressing their body out and they don’t give themselves enough time.

But you are the nucleus of your existence. So, if you aren’t able to provide energy and light to yourself, then there’s no way you’ll be able to provide energy and light to other people.

Self-care is important because what good is it going to be if you’re constantly taking care of somebody else, but you’re deteriorating in the process?

What are some ways you personally practice self-care?

Every day, I find time for myself. I’ve realized that if I give myself time to go play tennis, or go get a massage, or run or do a workout on my own, I not only can give energy, but also accept energy from other people. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you will miss opportunities when people are actually trying to provide you with positivity because your brain is so saturated with everything that is going on in your life.

What are some common reasons people are holding themselves back, and do you have any quick tips to help them better tap into their potential?

People hold themselves back because of fear. Some people just don’t do anything because they’re afraid that it’s not going to happen. But the only way to make something happen is to take action—and that’s how you uncover your potential.

In my podcast that I just recorded called “The Odds are Stacked Up Because of You,” I talk about chipping away at this rock to get to the core. The more you chip away, the more you’re going to find out about yourself. Don’t be afraid to break down the walls.

It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be tough. That’s why Insanity is tough. Yes, you are going to feel it, but you will succeed and you will have successful moments every single day because you’re fighting for you.

What is your biggest source of motivation?

I just believe that there is internal motivation for everything, that everyone is good. Yes, there are people I talk to, like tennis coaches, and my grandfather was a great motivation for me. But there’s nothing like being able to rely on and believe in yourself.

What role does massage therapy play in your health and wellness regimen?

Massage is important to me for many different reasons. No. 1, it’s important for me to relieve muscle tension. Also, stress relief. You know, being a health and exercise science major in college, one of the most important classes that I ever took was stress management. Ever since, I’ve realized how important it is to find ways to de-stress.

So now because I’m so physical and I have to be motivational and mentally empowering, it’s really important for me to have overall wellness.

Shawn Achor

Achor, who will be the keynote speaker of Closing Session, is one of the top TED speakers of all time and a former Harvard professor who studies scientific breakthroughs in happiness.

Related: Watch Shawn Achor's Popular TED Talk on the Science of Happiness

“Positive psychology is an attempt to research and quantify changes that cause a person to thrive,” he explains. “As opposed to traditional psychology, which focused on disorder, positive psychology focuses on what is going right.”

We asked him some questions about staying healthy, his research on happiness and the importance of self-care, as well as how attending the AMTA 2017 National Convention can contribute to your health and well-being.

From your research and experience, are there one or two simple changes people can make to boost their happiness?

Achor: Gratitude is the fastest and easiest way to disrupt negative thoughts. When you make it a daily practice, thinking of three new things you’re grateful for each day, your brain strengthens its optimism. Twenty-one to 28 days of gratitude training can help a potentially genetically negative person to become a default optimist.

What are some ways you personally practice self-care?

When I first started sharing happiness research, I was so excited about helping others I forgot to help myself. I traveled to 33 countries in one year, and at the end my back literally broke on a flight from Zurich. I spent six weeks lying on a floor and missing out on a trip to Africa.

Then and there, I learned that I needed to practice what I preach. I also learned the value of meditation and massage. Meditation helped restore my mind and massage helped me restore my body. I go monthly for a massage and it is usually my best meditation period of the month, too.

Most massage therapists are drawn to the profession out of a deep desire to help their clients achieve optimum wellness. But some days, as with any career, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or feel discouraged. How do you advise people to keep joy in their work?

Wanting to help people is great, but that desire alone will not protect our happiness. We must keep a daily habit of gratitude, exercise, sleep, meditation and social connection to restore our energy. I met with the U.S. Surgeon General this year and we talked about how the key to health is establishing happiness hygiene habits akin to brushing your teeth every day.

What words of encouragement or advice would you give to people facing their own personal or professional challenges?

Happy people are not without challenges. The happiest people I’ve met have gone through awful things in their life, and might still be experiencing them, but they choose happiness and in doing so remind all of us that happiness is a choice even when life is hard.

If you’re going through a hard time, know two things: Being positive will help you through that period, and the more challenges you overcome, the more you will be able to help others.

You speak widely these days to many different audiences of very diverse backgrounds. In today’s world, with so many competing pulls on our time, what do you think draws people to come together at conferences like the AMTA 2017 National Convention?

The greatest predictor of happiness is social connection. You can have all the money in the world, all the fame, all the success, but if you don’t have social connection, you will not have happiness. I have met people who have nothing externally but still have joy because of their family and friends.

The AMTA 2017 National Convention allows us to strengthen the most important predictor of happiness—social connection—by not only recharging us, but also fueling us by knowing that there are other amazing people in the world working side-by-side to make this a better place for us all.

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Watch Shawn Achor's TED Talk: The Happy Secret to Better Work

We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards? In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive.

"I am very glad to be aligned with a professional organization that gives so much to its members."

Satu F., AMTA member since 2003