John Lund/Stephanie Roeser for Getty Images
John Lund/Stephanie Roeser for Getty Images

Stress on the job has been shown in study after study to be a major source of health problems. Salon professionals have always been fortunate that a major reason people report feeling stress on the job—a fear of being fired or laid off—is less of a problem in an industry that’s chronically short of workers. Dissatisfaction from the work itself, another complaint among employees in other industries, also tends to be a minor issue among hairdressers, who rise to the top on polls that measure career happiness. 


Still, every job has some built-in stress. Like everyone else, hairdressers want to make as much money per hour as they can, which can lead to long hours, time management issues, disputes over commission and other stress triggers. Handling clients can be stressful. Physical ailments common to hairdressers can create stress. An article in the June 20 New York Times explored the physical ailments that occur just from having a “mean” boss. So if you’re the salon owner, be nice!


Try to be proactive. To help yourself and your team members avoid the harm of long-term stress, look for these signs listed by

  • Feeling anxious, irritable or depressed
  • General apathy or loss of interest in work
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Muscle tension or headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Use of alcohol or drugs to cope

Some of the steps you can take if you notice these problems occurring are obvious, such as cutting down on the alcohol, getting more sleep, eating properly and exercising. Also, rely on your support system—family and friends—to help you through rough patches, and take vacations! A break from your routine can do wonders.


Other strategies include:


Get organized in time and space. Keep your station easy to work in. If you’re rushing in the morning or you’re always late to pick up a child after work, talk to your salon owner about adjusting your working hours. If you’re an independent contractor, stick to a structured schedule as much as possible. Manage your time so that it helps you, not annoys you! If overlapping appointments doesn’t work for you, focus on one client at a time. Or hire an assistant to help—the cost is balanced not only by your wellbeing but by freeing you up to actually make more money.

Manage your emotions. If you find yourself often angry at team members or so close to clients that their sadness becomes your sadness, try to do a better job of staying even. Approach situations with humor, and keep the big picture in front of you. You may need some counseling to improve your “people skills.” 

Establish good habits. Negativity, carelessness and the opposite—perfectionism or trying to control things beyond your control—are really just habits that you can break if you try hard enough. Arrive at the salon with a positive attitude and determination to do the best job you can, and don’t let it rattle you if something goes wrong—because something always will! Try not to absorb that stress.


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