What is a typical day for Jo?
Back in my normal life before lockdown began, the mornings would be pretty hectic getting two of us, plus one little person, out of the door on time and off to work and nursery. Then I come home and transform my little home into a professional workspace before welcoming my first client of the day. Sometimes I do the odd mobile appointment, or a workplace treatment day in London, but more often than not I have back-to-back clients at home. It’s pretty lush to be able to work from home; I love welcoming my clients and seeing them relax relaxed in my cosy environment. I usually have 3 or 4 clients per day, ranging from deep tissue massages to relaxing reflexology treatments to pre and post natal massages, sometimes with little babies in tow! I usually grab a quick lunch break in between clients before I do all my washing and cleaning, write up my notes, respond to client messages and then dash off to pick my son off from nursery. I have a lovely few hours with him and put him down to bed then one night a week I pop my Practitioner hat back on and do an evening appointment. It’s a busy day but in a lovely way and without the pressure of commuting. I’m glad I only work one evening a week though as I’d totally burn out otherwise! Plus I love my PJs too much.
I would love to know why you decided to become a massage therapist and reflexologist?
I must say that I wasn’t exactly dreaming of being a Massage Therapist from the moment I could speak! I was a late bloomer. The first time I had a massage was actually in Thailand; in my head I had visions of a lovely relaxing massage and then the experience of a full body Thai Massage was a bit of a shock! I then didn’t have another for years, so it was a slow burn. It wasn’t until I started working, commuting and feeling the pressure that I turned to complementary therapy for a means of a healthy escape. After that, massages became a steady part of my life and I really relied on them.
As my job became more and more stressful and started taking its toll on me in more ways than one, I used to sit on the tube every day and think about what I should do, look at every other person commuting around me and wonder what they did. I kept coming back to Massage Therapy; I viewed it as the dream job being able to help people look after themselves, work for myself, work from home. So I just went for it! I did a weekend course to check that I liked it and became a bit obsessed, then handed my notice in a week later. For a risk-averse person this was very out of character but thankfully paid off!
You recently qualified as a reflexologist, what specifically drew you to this?
I started having reflexology sessions when I was pregnant with my son Theo. I saw wonderful Kate @thewellnessmidwife about once a month from 20 weeks onwards and it’s been a part of my life ever since. Nothing makes me relax like reflexology and I became really fascinated by the physiology behind it and the connection to Chinese Medicine philosophies. It can take a lot to make me switch off but reflexology succeeds every time, so I really wanted to know how I could help others feel the same way. I also love how you can treat people with a whole range of conditions through reflexology; it’s such a non-invasive form of complementary therapy. I definitely owe a lot to Kate, and her passion for reflexology. She got me hooked!
After my maternity leave with Theo, I really wanted to ‘apply myself and do some more studying’ when I returned to work. I both laugh and cringe now; the qualification for reflexology requires 100 case study hours outside of the weeks of lectures and examination study time! Every day I thought WHAT WAS I THINKING?! Returning to work after having a child is definitely applying yourself enough and I often felt really stressed and overwhelmed by this extra pressure I had put on myself, which is pretty much the opposite of how you’re supposed to feel about reflexology. Thankfully it paid off but in retrospect I was totally bonkers; lesson learnt.
What’s the most favourite part of your job?
Definitely seeing the change in my clients from when they arrive in my treatment room to when they leave. Every one of my clients is so different, and often I don’t know why each new client has been motivated to book with me and what they need from me until they arrive. And that need might change from one appointment to the next with the same client too. I really love this; every day is different and it keeps me on my toes. I never assume to know everything or that I have seen it all before, I really am always learning. But seeing clients leave in a better state than when they arrived, be it physically, mentally or both, is an amazing feeling. In my office job I sometimes struggled to see the tangible difference that I made, whereas now it’s immediate and that feeling is so powerful and fulfilling.
What piece of advice would you give to a mum looking to change her career?
Go for it, it will be tough but worth it. I think every Mum out there is used to things not always going as planned, we are used to hard work in raising our little people, and we have all learnt to become more resilient. I think these are all qualities that will be invaluable. Plus a stubborn strong will comes in super handy when you are your own boss. For me, a big motivation to change my career was to have a job that would help me have a family too, so that was my driver to make it work and still keeps me motivated when I have a tough day. I do find it lonely at times, so having someone you can rely on as a sounding board for ideas, and who can give you honest feedback is a real lifesaver. As lovely as my job is, any self-employed person will tell you it can be bloody hard work, and challenging to properly step away from it and switch off at times. However, being my own boss as a mother is priceless and my quality of life is a million times better than it would have been with my previous job.
What practices do you keep in your self-care toolkit?
I book in my little slots of self-care time regularly and look forward to them so so much. Often they help me get through the toughest times during the day. When I say book in, I mean plan them with my husband! I go for short bursts, as we find little and often is more likely to happen, especially since lockdown has started. My husband is able to work from home so it’s pretty much me and my little sidekick all day during the week. I love my son but if I didn’t have pockets of time to myself I would go bonkers, just to give me time to recharge and feel like things aren’t getting on top of me. I mostly just use this time to have a bath, my most favourite thing to do! I realise I am very lucky to have some bursts of ‘me time’ right now and this is a luxury many are not able to enjoy.
I’ve definitely learned the importance of this time to myself the hard way – a few months after returning to work after maternity leave, and a couple of months into my reflexology course, I totally burnt myself out. I picked up a virus (this was over a year ago, safer times) and it totally floored me. I was off work for two weeks, the first time I’d been poorly since starting Massage and Me. It was a big wake-up call that I’d been putting everyone first but myself; burning the candle at every end and had become unable to take care of myself in the same way I did for my clients. It forced me to put measures in place and has helped me to spot the signs early on if I’m starting to take on too much.
Obviously I practise what I preach and having regular complementary therapy treatments is a must for me. I alternate between reflexology and massage therapy. This is my time and I savour every last moment, from the drive there and back to the early night I have afterwards. One hour every couple of weeks for me is do-able for me, and I allow myself this time without feeling any guilt.
Finally, this is usually a bit of a secret but….one afternoon a month, I finish work early and before collecting Theo I turn my phone off, I take a book/kindle, I buy the most gigantic coffee and slice of cake I can find and I put my headphones in, shut off from the world and come back feeling more like Jo than ever.
Do you have a favourite brand or product that you use during your treatments?
Neal’s Yard Remedies are my absolute favourite brand to use on my clients. I just love them; their natural products, their helpful guides on how to get the best of their products, their consideration for pregnant women, mothers and babies and their sustainability policy. I use their pre-blended essential oils as an added extra for my clients’ treatments, and also have a couple of Aesop oils up by sleeve as they are beautiful for face massages especially. Neal’s Yard products use more natural and organic ingredients though so that will always be my preference.
Name one Instagram account we should all follow for inspiration.
Oh golly this is tough! I have so many that I look at every day without fail!
I think my go to is always Steph Douglas (@stephdontbuyherflowers) She has a son the same age as my little one, and started up her (beautiful) business two kids in. She is so down-to-earth and talks really openly about the struggles of owning your own business and having a family. Plus she’s hilarious. In my head we’re pals.
Eating cake with the people I love…then disappearing on my own to have a bath.
To book a treatment with Jo please visit www.massageandme.co.uk or you can follow Jo on Instagram here. Plus you can watch Jo’s Top 5 Self-Massage Tips for Knackered Mums video with Calm Mamas Club here.