Hairstylist Anxiety and Burnout: The Importance of Prioritizing Mental Health in Hair Salons
Most people are no stranger to the term “burnout,” but hairstylists especially suffer from burnout and anxiety all too often. When you pair the busy and demanding schedule of hairstylists with the face-to-face time they spend with their clients, this can create a work environment that is stressful at times. If you’re experiencing burnout and anxiety as a hairstylist or you’re a salon owner who has noticed stylists suffering, don’t worry! There is a way to create an environment that reduces burnout and prioritizes mental health. Whether you prioritize mental health in your salon mission statement or offer routine check-ins with your colleagues, it is possible to stop burnout at the source.
In this article, we are going to show you how you can mitigate burnout and anxiety as a hairstylist or salon owner so that you can do the job you love while putting your mental health first.
What Is Burnout?
If you’re wondering what burnout is or if you may be experiencing it, we will clearly define it for you. Burnout is usually stress created by your work environment. People tend to feel burnt out after working long hours, having a difficult commute, having too much work on their plate, not having the resources they need at work or absorbing too much negative energy from others. It’s important to remember that burnout may look and feel different for everyone, and not everyone feels stress the same way. However, it is essential for hairstylists and salon owners to recognize when burnout may be occurring. If hairstylists feel burnt out for a long period of time, this could lead to some devastating fallout for both the salon and the hairstylist. Here are some of the circumstances that could occur if burnout goes unaddressed.
- Employee turnover increases.
- Stylists may become depressed.
- Stylists may not show up to work on time.
- Your salon may not run as smoothly.
- Stylists aren’t able to do their jobs to their best ability, which could result in a loss of clients.
Why Can Salons Cause Hairstylist Burnout?
Burnout has existed long before the pandemic, but the truth is that the pandemic shed a light on this phenomenon. And it isn’t going away anytime soon with inflation and its rising costs. Most people are more stressed out than ever. While any kind of worker can experience burnout since the stress is largely work-related, it’s essential to understand why and how salons can become workplaces where burnout and anxiety can run rampant. More than one out of every five hairstylists will develop some form of anxiety throughout their career. Here are several reasons why hairstylists can experience burnout in a salon:
- No two days are the same, which can disrupt routines that stylists develop to help manage their stress and anxiety.
- Hairstylists absorb both good and bad energy from their clients, which can lead to anxiety and stress.
- Salon schedules can be chaotic and any kind of schedule delay or opening can cause stress on hairstylists.
- Hairstylists are expected to help improve their client’s identity, but when hairstyles don’t turn out the way a client expects, this can cause a lot of stress for them.
- The amount of trust that clients put into stylists can put a lot of pressure on stylists.
- There is always pressure to learn about new methods and techniques, which can cause burnout.
- On any given day, a hairstylist may have to take on duties outside of their own, such as being a receptionist, cleaning the salon, covering for a coworker or taking inventory. This can add stress to anyone’s job.
- Hairstylists are on their feet all day, which can cause chronic pain.
How to Recognize Burnout in the Salon
It may not be possible to completely put an end to burnout. However, there are ways to mitigate it and recognize it before it causes permanent damage to hairstylists’ confidence or the salon’s reputation. Here are some telltale signs that you or other stylists are experiencing burnout or anxiety.
- You don’t look forward to work – If you wake up in the morning and you are dreading your work day, this may be an early sign of burnout. Check-in with yourself to see what part of your day is causing you the most stress.
- You are feeling drained after talking with your clients – It can be draining to listen to your clients talk all day about their lives and their struggles. Taking on their negative energy could cause burnout and anxiety.
- Your body feels physically unwell – Standing on your feet all day can be painful, but burnout and anxiety can also show up as physical symptoms like neck, chest or head pain.
- Stylists don’t show up to work on time or at all – If you’re a salon owner and you want to make sure you are keeping an eye on stylists who may be experiencing burnout, noticing who is showing up late or not showing up at all could tell you all you need to know.
- You find it hard to be flexible – A salon’s nature requires stylists to be flexible and adaptable, but if someone is burned out, they may be less likely to adapt or be flexible.
How to Prioritize Mental Health in Hair Salons
Now that you know how to properly identify burnout, let’s talk about how you can either implement real-world policies at your salon or practice mindfulness to help mitigate burnout.
- Make self-care a part of your salon’s core mission – Your clients come to the salon to practice their own self-care, but who looks out for stylists? While self-care may seem excessive in the workplace, it’s essential to ensure you or your people keep burnout at bay. Self-care can look like setting aside time to take a walk outside, take a coffee break or have some screen time. Everyone practices self-care differently. So, make sure to develop a self-care routine that works for you.
- Set the ground rules – If you want your salon to run in a way that promotes healthy boundaries and great mental health, you will need to explicitly set the ground rules for your people. Let your people know that you want them to maintain proper mental health and lay out steps in order to maintain this. These steps could look like requiring a certain amount of breaks or prohibiting employees from working too many hours in one day.
- Conduct mental health check-ins – As a salon owner, you have the power to make mental health a priority at your salon. If you can, implement mental health check-ins for your people. These can happen every day or weekly, whichever works best for your salon and people.
- Provide tools and resources to cope – If you’re a salon owner who wants to prioritize mental health and prevent burnout, you can inform your people of resources like therapy that are available to them. Whether you send out a newsletter with reminders or lists of resources or you provide your people with these tools during mental health check-ins, this is a great way to mitigate anxiety.
- Encourage boundaries – In order to prevent burnout, hairstylists will need to start enforcing boundaries. This is an important practice to develop when it comes to talking with clients or working with other stylists. When it comes to clients, stylists should be able to say that they don’t want to discuss certain topics. This is helpful in preventing burnout because often, clients treat stylists like their personal therapists, which can be a heavy and exhausting role to take on — especially if you aren’t a licensed therapist. If topics come up that are triggering to stylists or wear on their mental health, they should be able to tell a client that they don’t want to discuss topics like that. On the other hand, if a stylist feels burnt out, they should also feel comfortable setting boundaries with the salon owner and their colleagues — whether this means turning down a shift or requesting a day off.
- Ensure the salon is run well – Burnout and workplace anxiety usually starts with a chaotic, unorganized workplace. As a salon owner, it’s your responsibility to make every effort to ensure that your salon is balanced, organized and flows in a way that promotes positive morale. If the business and salon are unorganized, the foundation for stylists is already shaky and it can be hard to maintain mental health. Salon owners can set their stylists up for success by ensuring the schedules are set and contingency plans are in place if there are double bookings or cancellations. They should also ensure they stock up on professional hair care products so that there are no shortages throughout the day. Salon owners should also make themselves available to stylists to discuss any issues or to help out.
How to Check In with Yourself
There could be several practices in place to ensure that workers aren’t burnt out or experiencing high levels of anxiety. However, one of the most important ways to prioritize mental health in a salon setting is knowing how to check in with yourself. Regularly doing a self-check-in can help you identify whether or not you’re feeling burnt out or experiencing anxiety that could affect the way you perform as a hairstylist. If you’re looking for practical ways to conduct a self-check-in, here are a few methods we like to use.
- Set Aside a Few Minutes – You can perform a self-check-in anytime, anywhere while doing anything. However, if you want to get the best read, we recommend setting aside a few minutes at the start of your day to take inventory on your mental state and emotions.
- Identify Your Feelings – It may be hard to put names to some of the feelings you may be having when you begin checking in with yourself or you may find that you feel nothing. As you practice this more, you will become more self-aware and it will be easier to notice the feelings coming up for you.
- Journal – If you really want to keep track of how your mental health is throughout your day or week, you can journal your check-ins. Journaling helps promote mindfulness, which can help you feel more balanced and prepare you to predict when you may feel anxious or burnt out. Journaling is also a great way to conceptualize feelings that you are having a hard time describing.
- Evaluate Physical Feelings, Too – Being burnt out isn’t just our emotional state. Physical pain can also play a big part in causing anxiety or burnout. If your body needs rest, listen to it!
- Check In Multiple Times a Day – The key to understanding how your mental health deteriorates throughout the day is checking in with yourself regularly. This practice will allow you to develop a better understanding of the things that may lead to burnout for you personally.
- Practice Makes Perfect – Checking in on your mental health is a practice, and it may not be easy at first. This process may also seem tedious and it may be the first thing you decide to sacrifice if you’re having a busy day. However, practicing checking in with yourself is essential for your mental health.
Running a salon or working in one is a tough job, and it requires you to constantly juggle emotions, energy and tasks. We hope that this article brings you clarity and helps you feel more prepared to address mental health and burnout in the salon. Whether you’re a stylist or a salon owner, your mental health is important and should be prioritized at work to keep you from feeling anxious or burnt out. Share this with a coworker or colleague who needs to infuse some mindful practices into their day-to-day.