Unconventional Self-Care for the Ambitious Groomer

by Denise Heroux

“Self-care is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation”
– Audre Lorde

It’s no secret that our society has evolved into a highly fast-paced environment. We see it everywhere we look and experience it every time we leave our homes or need to schedule an appointment.

We live in a world where technology allows us to have everything we could possibly need right at our fingertips. It allows us to access answers to questions within seconds of asking, keeps us connected to our loved ones easier than ever—and who doesn’t love getting what we need delivered right to our doorsteps within a matter of hours?

I know my time is extremely limited, so every little thing I can do to alleviate those burdens is a huge asset to me. However, the downside of this constant access is that my business is right at my fingertips. My work emails, social media notifications, scheduling software and the ability to run my business is right there in front of me— all the time. The pressure to stay on top of the never-ending to-do list, the high (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations put on us by being a part of the service industry and the demands of running a business with employees stretches any entrepreneur or groomer extremely thin.

I need to remind myself all the time that I am not an asset to my business, employees, family or friends if I am not taking care of myself first. I cannot help others if I am not a priority to me.
Then, we are expected to make sure that we are taking time for ourselves and our families. More often than not, this leaves us feeling overwhelmed and finding it difficult to perform fully or stay healthy. The problem is that self-care is not an option; it is a necessity. I need to remind myself all the time that I am not an asset to my business, employees, family or friends if I am not taking care of myself first. I cannot help others if I am not a priority to me. Of course, this is always a lot easier said than done…

I love to read. I have spent a small fortune on self-care and self-help books. I am always looking for ways to improve myself. Most of these books said the same few things to help with self-care: make time to exercise, find a hobby, meditate, etc. Those are all great ways to improve your mental health or take a break, but I found that they actually started stressing me out more because I just couldn’t find the time to schedule them.

When my schedule is planned out perfectly, all the self-care books’ suggestions are great, but they don’t allow for adversity and adaptation in everyday situations. It also didn’t help me throughout the day while I was engaged at work. I needed to find things to help within my day. I needed these techniques to help me be mindful, adaptable to the day’s stressors and mentally keep my sanity so I could make it through the day to exercise, meditate or engage in my hobbies.

Here are some unconventional selfcare tips that help me throughout the day, especially when I don’t have time for the activities or practices suggested by self-care experts:

Gratitude. The great thing about gratitude is that it takes seconds to do and has extremely long-lasting effects. We have all had those days where every time we turn around, something else goes wrong—the dogs are giving you a hard time, employees are calling off in droves, the hot water tank goes out and then add in the customer request of, “No rush, but I have an appointment in two hours so I will need Bella by…”

When you are at your wits’ end (or ideally before it gets to that point), take 10-20 seconds to find something to be grateful for in those situations. One of my go-to statements is, “I am grateful that my business is successful enough to have these types of problems.” Something so simple goes a long way throughout the day.

Grace. We are our own worst critics. Our brains are wired in such a way that makes negativity easier to process and hold onto than positivity. It is no wonder it is so easy to find all the things we did wrong. But, if we allow ourselves a little grace to remind ourselves that we are human beings and that we are doing our best, we are giving ourselves the ability to move forward rather than stay stuck in a self-deprecating mindset.

Acceptance. Not all days will go according to plan. Quite frankly, the odds are that things will go wrong in your everyday plans more often than they will go right. Our line of work involves way too many variables to be able to control at every second. Dogs will be dogs, and people will be people. We cannot control everything within our businesses and lives, but what we can control is how we handle what happens along the way. The sooner I accepted that things are just going to happen whether it was in the plan or not, the sooner I was able to come to peace that everything will work out.

Adversity. This goes along with the acceptance part of the mindset shift. I still need to control certain aspects of my business. To me, dealing with adversity doesn’t mean that I will just “see how things play out.” It means that I know I may have to come up with multiple plans depending on the circumstances, but I can be proactive and have solutions for the main problems that may arise.

Forgiveness. We are not perfect. We can’t be perfect in our everyday lives, and we cannot run our businesses perfectly either. We cannot go 24 hours without making some level of mistakes. Mistakes help us grow and evolve. We need to be okay with this fact and forgive ourselves when we fail.

Own who you are. This is probably the most important piece to remember. We are meant to be unique. Each business’s model and culture are meant to be different. We need to stop comparing ourselves to our competition, other businesses, influencers and our peers on social media. When itemizing our strengths and standing behind them, we gain the courage to move forward with blinders on. These blinders protect us from comparison and judgment while giving us that mental boost to stay on the path that is designed for us.

Self-care comes in so many different forms. I struggled with the conventional methods as my lifestyle made it difficult to find the time to practice them in a way that was beneficial. I was getting burnt out and going down a mental rabbit hole, and I knew I had to find alternative methods that worked for me. We are all different and unique, so keep putting the energy into finding what works for you and stick with it!

Denise Heroux has spent 25 years in the grooming industry. She became a business owner in 2014, and since then, she has built her brand to include over 20 employees and three locations with no end in sight for expansion. Taking the step into the next chapter of her career, she has decided to use her extensive experience to help the business owners in the grooming industry. She’s calling this new endeavor “The Ambitious Groomer,” offering coaching, leadership, and employee seminars to help create a great grooming business both for the owners and their employees.