December is a busy time for salons, and the festive frenzy of late night openings and back-to-back bookings during Christmas party season can physically take its toll on hairdressers. British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC) is also warning of the emotional toll that hairdressers face during this time as their clients share their ups and downs of the Christmas period during services. At this time of year, it is as crucial as ever for salons to put measures in place to help manage hairdressers' mental wellbeing.
Suzy Reading, psychologist and BABTAC’s resident wellness expert, explains: “The energetic and emotional toll of listening to clients’ problems needs to be recognised and addressed as part of the basic training. There needs to be clarity on remit and responsibility - that is you are not a trained psychological therapist and it’s not your job to fix or provide emotional support, but to establish rapport and help people feel at ease so they can get maximum benefit from your work.”
There are things that both the individual and the employer can do to stop this stress taking its toll during the festive period and throughout the year.
As an Employer
- Allow a reasonable amount of time between services so your team can decompress and have time to recharge before moving onto the next client.
- Provide a clean and welcoming space for your team to take breaks and where they can check in with other team members regularly, whether it’s to lighten the load or simply change the subject.
- Check in with your team to make sure they have the support they need and that they feel valued and listened to. People need to feel cared for and communication is key to this.
- Provide fresh water, tea or coffee and healthy snacks if possible for your staff. This is a small gesture that goes a long way and your stylists will be thankful after hours on their feet.
As a Hair Professional
- Suzy advises you recognise the toll that listening to your clients’ problems can take, and give yourself permission to articulate and honour your boundaries within the session. Healthy boundaries mean you get to decide what feels safe for you to talk about. So, instead of asking people what’s happening in their life, find something more neutral like 'how was your journey in today?'.
- After you finish with a client, or when you notice yourself taking on their stress, have a ritual to encourage a feeling of letting go. Suzy recommends a gesture like shaking your hands or a breathing practice like candle breath (in through the nose, out through the lips for a long cathartic exhale). A few minutes of fresh air is another good go-to if the location allows.
- Remember that the stress, emotion or problem you’ve just heard is not yours and turn the worry into wishing your clients well. Perhaps say a little prayer or set an intention for them and then bring your mind back to the moment. Also, remember to give yourself some of the same kindness and compassion too.
- Don’t ignore what fills your cup. When you’re feeling low and depleted, you’ll be more likely to be affected by others’ problems. So, whether it’s sleep, exercise, socialising, solo time, cooking - make sure you implement some small steps to give you a big boost.