By Malissa Diener CA, MMT
You know the routine well…busy day grooming, dealing with cranky people and crankier pets, and all day your energy level is being sucked dry and drug down until you feel completely devoid of anything positive.
You finish your work and go home. You sigh deeply. This is your body telling you it doesn’t like the day you’ve had. Things have to change. You cannot stay healthy and continue on this hamster wheel of stress and strife. That sigh is your body breathing; trying to push out the stress and negative energy.
But how do we incorporate some well–being into our crazy daily work routines?
We, as pet stylists, have frenetic days that don’t stop when we arrive home. Most of us have work to do when we get home and have to support busy family lives as well. Rarely do we have “me” time. Our bodies take the brunt of the stress and get sick and injured. Our minds cannot be still, and we struggle to find concentration and balance within ourselves.
Whether we work alone or with coworkers, we need to put some balance in our work space. Even if you are a house call groomer, there are ways to bring calmness and positive energy to yourself while you are out in the field working. I have put together 3 simple things you can do to help you shake off the stress during your day and let your mind be settled when you return home to decompress.
1. Make Your Work Station Or Your Car/Mobile Unit Your Personal Zone
When it comes to calming smells, these can be tricky places to navigate. If you are in a salon setting, smells from the animals, the other groomers, customers, scented products and more are bombarding your olfactory system with a pounding torrent of scent. Your brain is furiously trying to process them, and your body is internally responding to them like a confused child lost in an amusement park.
If you are in a mobile van or you are in your car and then in client homes most of the day, you still have this perfect storm of smells, just at different times.
You need to claim your space for your own mental clarity and to help you maintain your energy flow.
Simple solution: A USB diffuser for your car or mobile unit, diffuser jewelry or a regular diffuser for those that own their salon. I, as a house call groomer, take a small portable diffuser with me into my customers’ homes. I discuss this practice when I book appointments with them. If they don’t want it, then I always have my jewelry and my car diffuser. Plug the tiny USB device right into your phone charger or computer or tablet, sprinkle a drop or two of your favorite essential oils on the diffuser tip, and voila—your work space suddenly becomes a sweet–smelling, sacred space.
I was shocked that I hadn’t done something like this earlier in my grooming career. As a certified aromatherapist, I always had my oils with and on me but didn’t start this practice until much later.
I recommend using an energizing citrus blend in the morning and soothing lavender or Ylang Ylang blends after those crazy busy days. Always choose superior, high–quality essential oils (not fragrance oils) to diffuse. These oils will have a physical effect on your body and mind, as well as on those within your work space. You do not need to diffuse all day long. Do so for short periods of time and the lasting effects will surprise you.
If you want to also destress after work, have one in your car for the ride home from the salon. It will be amazing walking in the door to your house not grumpy and snippy, but feeling refreshed and ready to help with family tasks. Adding diffusers to your home as well can help so much with everyone’s well–being, including your pets.
2. Be Conscious Of Your Breathing
When we are stressed, we tend to stop breathing. Yes, we literally hold our breath. It is our body’s response to sensory overload. Our breathing becomes shallow, our heart rate rises and our body tenses up. We have to be mindful of what our body is doing.
Step back from the stress for a moment and take three cleansing breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose, use the count of four to draw in your breath, pull your stomach in, raise your ribs and drop your shoulders away from your ears. RELAX. Try and hold that breath for four more counts. Now is a good time to set your intent if you haven’t done so already. If you already set your intent, then reset it now.
Setting your intent is giving your mind and heart a word or phrase to concentrate on daily. Choose what you want it to be, like forgiveness or be present or love and compassion. This word is yours to choose. It is a point to focus on to bring your mind into that state and let your body release its self from the restraints that stress has put on it.
When exhaling, do so slowly through your mouth. Go ahead and make some noise with your breath. Feel the vibration through your core and let that vibration work with centering your energy flow. Push your stomach out as the air exits your lungs, stick out your tongue, and relax your jaw, neck and shoulders. Try and count to four as you let that stress release from your body. Assign it a color, I usually see black smoke in my mind’s eye when exhaling stress. Watch it in your imagination waft away from you and dissipate into the atmosphere.
Repeat these breathing exercises three more times. Go slowly—you don’t want to hyperventilate. Shake your arms and legs around loosely to bring the circulation back to them. Stretch out your fingers and rotate wrists and ankles. Rub your temples and unfurrow your brow line. This simple technique will help you get back to work and release all that negative energy from your space and body.
Sometimes we just have to step away, take a moment for ourselves and then return to our spot. When working in a shop environment, this can be a daunting task. But do it. Do it when the flow of the day has slowed, or if you need to do it at a busy time to get your mind back and rein in your energy. Take the time to put the pet away and get re–centered, everyone including the animal you are working with will be better for it.
This is a practice that should be part of your daily routine. If you’re new to a daily practice, the idea of doing something every day may seem daunting. But I encourage my students to do a little bit often rather than feel they have to take on a lot all at once. I’ve always believed that we get the best results when we work at a pace that feels right for us personally. It takes 90 days for the brain to commit a daily practice to habit. Give yourself 90 days and trust me, you will be a better, happier groomer.
3. A LITTLE + OFTEN = A LOT
Here is a little practice for your enjoyment now:
- Settle into an easy, comfortable position. Feel where your body meets support. If standing, feel your feet fully rooted into the ground.
- Stand tall with your spine straight and your shoulders away from your ears, like there is an invisible string pulling you up straight from the top of your head to the sky.
- Close your eyes and shut out the world around you.
- Release a few long exhales out through your mouth.
- Just as the sand in an hourglass drains from the top half to the bottom, imagine all the heaviness in you, all the sand, draining from your head, shoulders and torso, down into your bottom half.
- Allow your weight to rest heavily in your seat if you are sitting in a chair or lotus position. If standing, let it rest in your feet.
- Move your awareness back to your chest. Welcome the breath into your clear, upper hourglass. As if there is a nostril on the heart, imagine your breath moving freely through your chest. Feel the nourishing breath caring for you, as it flows in and out.
- Slowly ease into your next moment, feeling refreshed and renewed to return to your work space.
Now you can go back to your reality, clear of any pent–up stresses. You will feel better and those around you will also feed off of that positive energy you are now in full possession of.