All work includes stress. No matter how much you love your job, there will be days when salon life will just get to you. Maybe it’s a client that overstepped a boundary, or a coworker threw you under the buss, or maybe you just couldn’t get that graduated bob angle exactly the way that you wanted.
Whatever the case may be, few things can get to you the way a bad day at work can.
The highly personal nature of professional beauty work, combined with long hours and physical strain offer plenty of opportunities for additional stress. Added up over time, these stressful days and even moments can creep into other areas of your life, leading to burnout. While it isn’t always possible to minimize your stress throughout the day, it is possible to make sure that it doesn’t follow you home.
Feel it, name it
Feeling stressed out, irritated, or angry is generally an uncomfortable experience. Most of us are tempted to get rid of these negative feelings as soon as they rear their ugly heads. We may start scrolling through social media or call up a friend to meet us for a drink, anything to “take the edge off”. The problem is, the edge is still there, it’s just buried under funny tik Tok videos and vodka sodas.
By distracting yourself from your negative feelings, you are not actually letting go of them. Since that negative feeling is never addressed, it’s never processed and so it stays right with you. Unresolved feelings can build up over time and if you consistently numb them out, they will show up where you least expect it, like when your partner leaves their socks on the floor next to the hamper….again. Cue an explosion, followed by feelings of guilt and shame, which leads to more stress and BAM, we are right back where we started.
Instead, make it a habit to try sitting with your uncomfortable feelings, even if it’s just for a moment. If you’re not used to doing emotion work, this may feel really foreign at first. You can start by identifying what you are feeling in your body and where it shows up. Some common physical experiences of stress are a tight feeling in the chest, or a swirly feeling in the stomach.
Once you’ve identified the feeling in your body, try to give it a name. This is sometimes really difficult to do. The Gottman Institute—a world renowned therapy resource— has a feelings wheel available as a free download on their website. This is a really helpful resource in not only identifying your emotions, but also exploring what may be driving them.
Shake it off
Once you’ve noticed how you feel and are able to give it a name, try moving your body a little to release it. Move in anyways that feels right for you. You can shake and shimmy, dance, strike a few yoga poses or do some light stretching. Yoga with Adriene, a popular YouTube channel with tons of free yoga classes—offers a quick yoga for when your angry practice that might just do the trick.
If yoga isn’t your thing or you just want to GET OUT OF THERE— a brisk walk around the block or post work jog can also help to release pent-up emotional tension.
Collect some good
Now you’ve named what you’re feeling, and you’ve officially shook, danced, ran or stretched it out of your system, now it’s time to fill yourself back up. This could mean talking to a good friend, it could mean reading a little in a book you love, or even watching something that makes you laugh. Whatever your chosen method is doesn’t really matter, it’s more the fact that you are doing something that makes you truly feel good.
One creative suggestion from Psych Central is to act like a tourist in your own town, on your way home from work. Taking a little extra time to notice and appreciate your surroundings in a way that you may not be used to doing can help to shift your perspective. Armed with a new appreciation for the place you call home, you may start to feel some gratitude and friends, when it comes to good feelings, gratitude is IT.
Stress is a part of life. You’ll find it wherever you go and the believe it or not, the trick is not get rid of it, it’s to learn to live with it. Feeling stressed, angry, irritated or even burnt out are not indicators that you are in the wrong profession. If anything, those negative feelings are positive indicators that you actually care about what you do. While you can learn to identify and release the negative emotions, take the same amount of time to recognize and celebrate your emotional investment. This passion is what makes you great hair stylist, don’t ever let it go.