Anyone with a career in beauty knows that while it’s satisfying work, it can also be immensely stressful. The current estimates suggest one in five hairstylists are likely to experience anxiety disorders, especially if they gain “compassion fatigue” from listening to clients about their own struggles. The good news is that salon and spa employees do have resources at their disposal.
Since July 24 is International Self-Care Day, let’s take a moment to examine the ways beauty specialists can help others by helping themselves.
Know what you can (and cannot) do
Salons and spas do invaluable self-care work, but there are still worlds of difference between beauty teams and mental health professionals. While a stylist can show compassion and offer a supportive ear, what they cannot do is provide therapeutic advice or a mental health diagnosis. This can be a problem when clients book hair appointments as a low-cost alternative to personal therapy.
The reality is most stylists do not have mental health training and really shouldn’t be expected to fill that role. But that’s okay if the client just needs to commiserate or vent after a long day. In that case, you can listen, share lived experiences, or show empathy while making it clear you don’t have all the answers.
That being said, if a client is genuinely struggling and doesn’t know what to do, it can be helpful to offer some mental resources for outside the appointment. For example, look at educational resources or contact info for support groups for handling anything your beauty training cannot. (Just ask before flinging business cards or pamphlets at a client. Maybe they did just want to vent!)
And remember — if you’re struggling with issues like mental health or depression, it’s okay to find help for yourself. Here are some mental health resources tailored for stylists that might help you get started.
Do you have breaks and vacation time? Use them!
When you have a busy day, week, or month with clients, it can be easy to forget the time you should be taking off. So if your employer offers vacation time, book it in advance. Likewise, take a sick day when you’re feeling under the weather. Paid time off is all about using it or losing it, so always be aware of what you’re entitled to.
But time off is about more than time away from the workplace. Make sure you’re taking full lunch breaks and keeping hydrated between appointments. These may seem like small details, but they can revitalize you and ensure you consistently give your best to every client.
It’s common to use the little down time you get to take care of life things — running errands, taking care of your home, and so forth. Don’t forget to make time to take care of you, too.
A positive routine can make any day easier
One of the most surprising ways to boost your mental health is simply having a routine. Consistent behavior often has a noticeable impact on day-to-day mental health — it reduces anxiety, prevents burnout, and even limits the effects of medical disorders. Of course, starting a routine can take time, but even a small activity can become a regular habit if you stick with it for three weeks.
The real question is what kind of routines will help you feel refreshed and revitalized — even outside the workplace. Some people like to visit the gym or practice yoga. Others might try new dog walking routes or read a few chapters from a book each day. If you can start small and stay consistent, you can build routines that help you get through the rough days while making the good days even better.
If things feel difficult, remember that one in five hairstylists are experiencing their own challenges — which means you’re not alone. So don’t hesitate to contact trusted colleagues for advice and support. It might just help and make you an even more effective beauty professional.