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Holistic Health for Groomers

What does being healthy mean to you? Okay, we’ve gotten the eye rolls out of the way. Now, let’s ask a different question: what does holistic health look like to you? Was your first answer the same as your second? Because to me, health is holistic. Holistic health is health. In other words, all parts of you (“whole”-istic) are being cared for consistently.

Let’s take a look at some slices of our healthy pie (the irony is not lost): physical health, nutritional health, mental/emotional health, and spiritual/intellectual health.

Physical Health

I get it; how can a groomer want to go workout after how dog-tired we are when we get done grooming (if you have to ask if the pun was intended, do ya even know me?)? The key is functional fitness and nutrition. Functional fitness is a whole (there’s that word again) blog post of itself, but basically, it means the body is able to function the way it needs to for daily living: squatting down to pick something up. Lifting doggos. This is huge for groomers! We need physical longevity since our job is so demanding and takes a toll on our body.

All it takes is 30 minutes of full-body strength training, twice a week. Add some walks in for heart health. Find a yoga video on YouTube. Have stairs? You can do an entire workout on them (google “How to use the Stairs for Exercise” if you want a workout written by Yours Truly). You can’t spell functional without FUN. (It’s okay, you can thank me later). Be consistent. The hardest part is showing up. Sparing a bit of time, a couple days a week so we can train our body for specific jobs it needs to do on the daily—it’s a small sacrifice to pay for a longer, more satisfying career.

Nutritional Health

It is so hard to get in the food amirite? The key here is to eat—don’t skip a meal. Even a small snack in between dogs will help so much with energy levels and keeping brain fog and moodiness at bay. What snacks, you ask? A Slim Jim, you say? No, sorry. A long stick of mystery meat doesn’t count. A small handful of almonds and an apple is perfect. You want to always pair a carb (the apple) with some protein and/or “good” fat (the nuts). Another example would be some lightly sweetened Greek yogurt and a banana. Can’t forget water! Sip on that H2O throughout the day to keep joints lubricated and your body lovin’ you. My go-to is sparkling water. Yes, it tastes like TV static at first, but give it some time. Limit sugar and caffeine. The crashes aren’t fun for anybody.

Mental/Emotional Health

We live in our heads as much as we live in our bodies. It seems more people are finally realizing we can’t be truly healthy if our heads aren’t. For many of us, grooming is a passion, so it is hard to disconnect from it completely once we walk out the salon door. So. Many. Instagram accounts to stalk! (And learn from.) But, my friends, it’s imperative to have hobbies outside of dogs.

Hiking, playing music, extreme couponing; whatever’s your jam. Just make sure to do it and disconnect from our lovely grooming community every once in a while. Support from other humans is vital for our minds too. Yes, snuggies from pups are great and release oxytocin! But we need snuggies from humans too. In the words of the great Bruce Springsteen, “Just a little of that human touch.” Go hug a random stranger if you need to. I’m sure they won’t care.*

*Don’t actually hug a random stranger. Don’t you listen to true crime?

Spiritual/Intellectual Health

Support from others is huge but so is completely disconnecting and getting some quiet time for yourself each day. No scrolling; no TV; just quiet. Pray. Meditate. Stare at the wall. Whatever. Then think about how good you have it. Yes, we are all dealing with something, and we all have struggles. But did you know just the act of looking for the positives makes you feel better? I challenge you: write down just one thing every day that you are grateful for. Reach out in a month and let me know if it helped you!

And never stop learning…

Invest in yourself and your career—your passion—because you are your biggest advocate! Don’t have the funds for an expo or webinar? There is a ton of free material right at your fingertips. Don’t forget the library (yes, they still exist).

And, after all this talk about holistic wellness, I would be remiss to leave out rest and rejuvenation. Your body repairs itself at night. Get the eight hours. Okay, at least seven. Bonus points if you take a bath beforehand. And get outside! Even for a lap around the building during lunch. Sunshine is medicine! Well, literally a vitamin (D). It really does make a difference! Roll up your sleeves and get some sunlight on your face and forearms for 15 minutes a day.

All these facets of health work synergistically—the better your mental health is, the more likely you are to eat well and exercise, and vice versa; the more spiritual gratitude you show, the better your mental health will be and the easier it will be to find things to be grateful for. Practicing these steps produce both immediate and long-term results—you feel good after a workout (hello, endorphins) and you’re becoming more fit. They also compound on each other—the more you practice all these things, the better you feel. Kind of like a sweet little deshed hairball tumbleweed that gets bigger and bigger as it rolls through the shop. Speaking of shops, none of this will stick if your environment isn’t healthy. You know, nature and nurture? You kind of have to nurture your nature and keep away from toxic people and environments. 

One last thought I’ll leave you with: consistency is key.

Nobody is perfect and there is always going to be an aspect of our overall well-being that needs a little more TLC than we naturally give it. Just be mindful (see the pattern here?) of it and hold some space for it like you hold that little Pomeranian pupper when his parent is trying to pry him out of your carpal-tunnel-riddled hands at pickup. Also, keep being awesome. We need more humans like you!

Elly Linam is a professional groomer and owns Elly Scissorhands Dog Grooming LLC. She loves coffee with a touch of dog hair, getting hit in the eye with flying dog-nail shrapnel, and long walks waiting for the pooches to poo. You can find her on Instagram at @elly.scissorhands.