It’s easy to get so caught up in your work that you forget to take care of yourself, but healthy habits are an investment in your future. Post this list near your work station to remind yourself to practice self care.
Illustration by Luisa Montalto
1. Vision and lighting. Excessive close detail work can stress the eyes and lead to near-sightedness. To prevent this, take visual breaks by looking far away every half hour or so. Invest in good prescription reading glasses and be sure your task lighting is adequate.
2. Ergonomics. Position clients’ hands properly and raise them if necessary on a device or rolled towel; position clients’ feet/legs properly – bring them to you and don’t support their weight.
3. Breaks and stretching. Break up long stretches of sitting by getting up and stretching between clients, or at least every 50 minutes or so. Try to alternate manis and pedis throughout the day.
4. Nutrition. Have a healthy lunch and snacks that will sustain your energy. David L. Katz, M.D., author of The Flavor Full Diet, advises focusing on vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, lean meats and non-fat dairy for sustained energy throughout the day.
5. Exercise. Regular exercise is important for sustaining energy and keeping our systems functioning optimally. If you’re too tired after work, consider waking a bit earlier to take a quick jog or attend a yoga class. Take an exercise break at lunch. At minimum, aim for walking 10,000 steps per day.
6. Massage and chiropractic. Anybody sitting for too long will likely have back pain. Massage and/or chiropractic care may seem like a luxury, but if you have back pain, seeking either treatment is an investment in the longevity of your career. Both modalities can not only relieve pain, but also help prevent it.
7. Wrist protection. Nail techs are at increased risk for carpal tunnel and other wrist maladies. Be sure to take the time to perform stretching exercises between clients. Always use correct posture and wrist position, and make sure your workstations and tools are ergonomically efficient. Wearing splints or braces can keep your wrists straight if you begin to feel symptoms.
8. Ventilation. Protect your breathing zone with a source-capture machine or an N95 dust mask. If possible, work near an open window or door.
9. Allergy/skin protection. Wear gloves to avoid any nail product coming into contact with your skin, and avoid any contact with the filings or dust of incompletely cured products (such as those in gels/gel-polishes).
10. Sleep and water. Get seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep deprivation impairs immunity and can cause weight gain, and according to research published in Medical News Today, lack of sleep actually ages us faster. It’s also important to hydrate adequately, as the human body is made up of 75% water. Aim for eight to 12 eight-ounce glasses of water per day.
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