By Tip Campbell
Next to “explosive diarrhea” and “matted doodle,” burnout is one of the most feared phrases in a groomer’s vocabulary. Yet, at some point in their career, all groomers must deal with burnout.
We feel it coming on. At first, we just feel tired. Then, we notice that the little things start to bother us. We get irritated more easily. Our bodies start to wear down. Suddenly, our job that once brought us so much joy feels like a constant weight upon us. Work becomes a dark, shadowy place where we no longer seek sanctuary. Instead, we feel sad and often just want to run away. We are burned out.
What is burnout?
Burnout is simply when we are too stressed for too long. We have more demands than with which our body and brain can handle. So, our mind starts going into an energy conserving state. We only have the ability to deal with a fraction of what we are normally capable. Our mind pinpoints the functions and issues it deems most important. And, other things soon fall through the cracks. We start to lose control of our lives. And, we become unbalanced.
So, what do we do when we realize that burnout is upon us?
In order to take back control of our lives, we must restore the rightful balance. We must eliminate those things which have a negative impact on our lives, and we must take care to bring back the positive.
Teach an old dog new tricks
Groomers today have more opportunities than any other generation in the history of the industry. And, we can use these opportunities as a vehicle for change in our lives. Here are just a few:
— Many successful, high profile groomers offer one-on-one training sessions. Want to find out more? Find your favorite groomer on social media sites. It’s often easy to set up these sessions. And, what better way to hone your skills than training with your industry icons?
— Did you know that you can bring grooming legends into your area and hold a local training session? If traveling to your grooming icon isn’t an option, you can often find like-minded groomers in your area that are interested in learning. Many national grooming organizations also hold small group educational sessions and workshops. And, numerous groomer supply companies sponsor small seminars and training opportunities.
Grooming Trade Shows
— If you want to hear from a variety of speakers on a wide variety of topics, grooming shows are for you. Everyone can learn something new from a trade show. You get to try new products. You meet new people. And, you get to learn new skills and techniques.
Confirmation Dog Shows
— Contact your local kennel clubs to find shows that you can attend. There is a wealth of knowledge in understanding confirmation, movement, and structure.
Continue your education at home
If traveling or bringing in speakers simply isn’t possible for you, there are still options for groomers who want to learn. Social media grooming groups are an excellent way to see how other groomers do things and handle common issues. Now, we have the ability to train wherever we might go. Online websites and webinars are easy and economical ways to continue learning. Several elite groomers have dvds available to watch whenever and wherever you choose to learn. And, many national breed clubs have online resources for groomers. These resources include detailed grooming charts, pictures, and grooming instructions. So, learning is easier and more accessible than ever.
Change your routine
If you are in a position to do so, give things a good shake up.
Owners or independent contractors might consider changing the hours to a time that fits their lifestyles better. Try different scheduling arrangements. Perhaps consider scheduling four long days and have three days off. Or, try working Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, giving you every other day off to recharge.
If you are an employee, talk to your employer about what options you might have to alter your working arrangement. If there aren’t options for changing your work hours, consider changing the things you can control. As silly as it may sound, sometimes something as small as taking a different route to work or grooming in a different order can make a big change in your workday.
Sometimes, we need to regain our drive and our focus we once had. We need to reignite the fire and passion we once had for grooming.
These are just a few ways to challenge ourselves:
Write a small article or advice column for the local paper or a local organization
Create a small newsletter for your clients
Compete in a grooming contest
Certify with a professional grooming organization
Offer to give small demonstrations, such as how to properly brush, to clients and owners.
There is no easier way to bring back positivity than by simply doing good deeds. As groomers, we are in a unique position to do good for our communities. Simple efforts might be free nail trims or grooming at the local animal shelter or rescues. Start a pay-it-forward chain at a local coffee shop by paying for the person’s order behind you. Take five minutes to give a less experienced groomer a kind word of encouragement. Post a positive status on grooming groups such as Groomers Uplifting Groomers on Facebook.
Simplify your life
It’s ok to say, “No.” Really… You can do this! If you find yourself barely able to drag yourself out the door in the morning, stop accepting additional responsibilities. Make a list of the most important things you MUST accomplish each week. Then, start listing the things that you want to do, but don’t have the time for. Finally, list the things that you wish you didn’t have to do. Are there any tasks that you could eliminate? Prioritize your life. Make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of commitments you accept.
If the constant bombarding of information from technology is interfering with your personal life, take the time and make the effort to unplug. Have a set time each night when you stop answering the phone, stop checking your email, stop responding to texts, and just relax.
Have a “no work zone.” I was out to dinner with several groomers in Atlanta and instinctually, I checked my phone several times. My friend, Cheryl, stopped me. She called me out and told me to put away the phone if I wanted to continue having dinner with them. It had never dawned on me to declare phones off limits at meals. But, since I have started trying this, I have found myself enjoying my time with others instead of being focused on being so plugged-in.
Take care of yourself
Physical and emotional wellness is a cornerstone of burnout prevention. Take time to distress and unwind. Pent up stress can cause physical pain and fatigue. Massage therapy is a wonderful way to release the negativity and stress. Meditation, relaxation techniques and exercise can work wonders for relieving stress.
Change your environment
“It’s not you. It’s me.” That’s the traditional saying. Well, sometimes, it’s not me it’s YOU. There comes a point when we have to analyze our environment. If we are stuck in a thankless, toxic work environment, we eventually must choose to make a change. It can be frightening to consider such a drastic change. But, we all must grow. If our work environment is the major cause of negativity in our lives, we should face the fear head on, bring joy back to our lives, and quite simply, move on. Likewise, salon owners should consider making personnel changes to maintain a harmonious workplace.
Making simple changes can have a huge difference in our lives. Burnout doesn’t have to be a dirty word any more.