Self Care for the Stylist

Self Care for the Stylist

Because you deserve the care you sell to others

Most of us enter the haircare game as a labor of love - to share what we’ve learned, love in our community, and instill confidence in the babies coming up behind us. But this industry can also be vicious. There are people who bite your work and impersonate you, long hours, and sometimes even thankless clients and opportunities. Still, and I speak from experience, it can all be worth it when you see your business prospering, your work recognized, and your days booked. The journey of the stylist is not one that’s understood by many, unless you’ve lived it and walked the walk. So in this series I’m sharing what’s worked for me along my path and things I’ve picked up along the way. 

First up: Self Care as a Stylist! Because, in the words of the great Lauryn Hill, “how you gon’ win if you ain’t right within?” Remember how we talked about the potentialities of the vicious industry? Well, the first rule is not to weaponize yourself against your goal. If your body is stagnant and in a state of disarray, eventually your business will be too.

You Gotta Keep It Moving

Our bodies are the vehicles used to take us on this trip called life. But what happens when you start to repeatedly put off getting that oil change, ignore the check engine light, and keep working working working? In the service industry we continuously commit to others, while sacrificing our own welling being to make even more sacrifices. Whether you work behind the chair with a client or behind the desk to manage operations it’s easy to forget to move. How many times have you heard your body knocking and said to yourself, “ok I’ll grab a bite right after this last braid that turns into completing the entire remaining section? Or worked straight through the burning pain in your back & knees?  Or waited to use the bathroom until after the morning rush was over? 

Our bodies were not meant to withstand that kind of trauma, yet we do it anyway. Studies have shown that hair stylists are top ranking for fertility and respiratory complications, and cancer risk due to all the chemicals we can deal with. The consistent strain on the back from standing for long periods can cause sciatica too, which results in nerve-related pain that affects the nerves, legs, and reflexes. With enough strain and stress, eventually your vehicle will tell you exactly how she feels. And all too often what it’ll say is you don’t get to have a life outside of your work, because of all the WORK you put in. Backwards, right? Our bodies need periodic movement and dedicated care to survive.

You commit to others for love, service or money everyday without question. So what I’m asking you to do now is commit to “You” for the next 4 consecutive days by doing the following:

  • Setting your reminder or calendar to stretch your limbs 3 times a day for 5 minutes each (morning, afternoon & evening) no matter the chaos of the day
  • Stopping whatever you are doing, and taking  20 minutes out of your 8-10 hour day just to walk and focus on your breathing. 
    • 5 minutes right after you wake up in the morning, 
    • 5 minutes after you have taken you have gotten yourself and/or everyone else ready for the day, 
    • 5 minutes right after you allow yourself a lunch break and,
    • 5 minutes before you retire for the rest of the night.

Not only will you see a difference in your health, but with continued practice, you’ll see a difference in your mindset and the quality of your work too. All day you prioritize others’ need to beautify themselves. You deserve to FEEL as great as you make others look.

Rest as a Priority

Say it with me: service does not mean personal sacrifice. Repeat that as many times as you need to. Make it a daily mantra. Whatever you do, get very clear that sacrificing for your business and goals is not synonymous with sacrificing your health. Not only is getting a good night's sleep important to productivity and mental sharpness, taking periodic breaks throughout the day can help you stay on task too. In fact, contrary to popular belief, scientists are now finding out that our brains actually need a bit of a distraction every so often to do a repetitive task well. I’m not saying scrolling on your phone will help you blend that colored hair better - I’m saying the same type of stimulation over and over again can bore you and result in poor work. In 2011, the scientists called this “vigilance decrement” but what it really means is the brain stops registering what it’s doing as important. Can you imagine what your clients would say if they knew your brain didn’t care at all about the style they were getting? Your taking breaks helps you and them. 

No matter how much you love what you’re doing, you simply cannot operate from zero. Taking a few minutes to talk about something personal, watch a preview of a new show you’ve wanted to see, or something simple like having a cup of warm tea can boost your creativity and give your brain the break it needs to refuel and keep going. Which leads me to my next point….

You Gotta Eat Damn It

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential to your overall productivity. No, I’m not advocating you go vegan or eat some specific diet to be a super-stylist. I’m taking it back to the basics. Do you remember when you were a child, going to get your or your mom’s hair done and y’all would pause for a food break? Bring back the fast-food breaks! I remember going to the corner store with a half-done head of hair because me and my stylist were simply starving and couldn’t wait to get our hands on some french fries. Whether the stylist tagged along or not, we always made a point to bring her something back, just in case. Nowadays, I hear more and more stylists saying they work all through the day and only eat when they’re finished. Where they do that at?! 

Even if you’re not in position to watch what you eat, the first and most important step is ensuring you eat at all. Even if you can’t step away from your chair, you should have something to keep you going throughout the day. Here are a few quick snacks you can sneak in to keep your energy and metabolism going: 

  • Trail Mix - Nuts and seeds are full of protein and fiber that will keep you fuller, longer until you can get to your next meal. And there isn’t a ton of sugar, so you won’t crash or feel jittery as you work. 
  • Afternoon tea - That tea we mentioned earlier? Green tea specifically has antioxidants and compounds that can help heal the tissue of the eye, helping you to see better! Perfect for the stylist focusing their eyes on one thing all day. Tea also will force you to slow down, have a few moments to yourself, and hydrate.
  • Bananas - Not only are they easy to take on the go, but bananas are also high in potassium and fiber. Fiber will help you feel fuller longer, and potassium can ease muscle tension and arm strain. 
  • Electrolytes - Sometimes when your energy is low or you’re feeling depleted, you’re simply low on electrolytes. Lemon water, Gatorade, coconut water, potatoes (maybe even french fries or chips), and sunflower seeds can help up your body’s mineral content and give you the electrolytes you need. Electrolytes are essential for the nerves and muscles to fire and work together properly.

So, are you ready? For the next 4 days, we’re taking breaks, eating, and committing to our self-care. I want to hear your DM’s, results, and testimonies! Drop in my DMs or tag me at @evolvingtextures on IG and Facebook to share your progress. You got this! I love you. Your work is important to those you serve, and so are YOU. Always remember to shine!

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, or health professional. This is for advice and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a licensed physician if you have any of the conditions or symptoms listed.

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