• Abby O'Sullivan - Foxie

Tale of a Burned Out Lash Artist

My personal story of crashing, burning out and finding relief in the gym. I'm sharing this because I know there are others like me (not just in the lash industry). I'm passionate about sharing my journey as well as what has helped me during times of burn out from physical, mental and emotional stress plus how I continue today 5 years ago I was working 40+ hours a week doing lashes. 5 or 6 clients a day, 5 days a week and ½ Saturdays. In Fall 2014, my hips were really bothering me. To the point the sitting position of driving and lashing was very uncomfortable. I was overcompensating for the pain on the right side by leaning on the left. Then in early 2015, I experienced numbness in my pinky and ring finger of my left hand. Concerned about carpal tunnel (and my body in general), I went to see a physical therapist who performs Active Releases Therapy.

I didn’t have carpal tunnel as it was the radial nerve that was impinged. This all stemmed from my back and neck through my shoulder, upper pec, down my arm into my hand. Phew.

I have no idea what I did to my hips but as women’s hips tend to shift easier anyway the imbalance grew into scar tissue and inflammation on both sides. It took 4 months of grimacing through appointments and on a solo road trip that May I realized my hips weren’t bothering me anymore. The issues with my nerves and my hands have never been as severe again, thankfully.

Here's the thing. I worked out the whole time. I never had pain that kept me away from it. It always made me feel better. For a bit. Same with stretching.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I know a lot of people that work like I did. And I know they deal with these physical issues which can also affect your mental and emotional state. It can make your job miserable even if you love your career. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it to work yourself into overwhelming physical or mental stress. If you wanna have a chat about boundaries with clients, scheduling and what your time is worth...jump into my DMs. I should have raised my prices and cut my schedule back right then and there. It took another meltdown the next summer as I helped open a new lash studio in Nashville (I had moved) for me to finally cut out the 5 days a week of lashes and stop hurting myself to get full set after full set done.

From time to time, I still over book myself slightly. The difference now... #1 I won’t do it for days on end. #2 I know how to use movement to my advantage. #3 I make it priority to move and strengthen my body. It is not simply about stress release anymore.

Strength training is important to me. It’s helped me in numerous ways. Confidence, self-esteem, feeling capable, moving boxes of my life around many times, finding community, finding a new career and lifestyle that suits me more than weekends of binge drinking and being a fool (yeah we had fun but it was NOT a productive time for me).

Going to the gym has been a time for stress release and decompressing after long days. I get to socialize a bit with my gym buddies, put aside the worries and business concerns for the day and focus on myself and my own personal growth. I have used trainers off and on so that I could learn, be pushed and not have to think about the programming. In my busiest years and some low times, having a trainer has been such a relief and support. Each one has taught me something different and helped me grow as a person and fitness enthusiast.

More recently, I’ve learned more about what mobility training can actually be rather than the standard definitions.

Mobility refers to the range of motion in the joints. Of course, there is connective tissue, fascia and muscle around these joints that can inhibit your range of motion. For example, if you cannot get your elbow close to your ear when you lift your arm, you may be limited in your shoulder mobility. This can be a risk for injury in an overhead pattern.

When I train the mobility of my limbs, I actually strive to increase the strength of the muscles around the joint to gain range of motion and stability in my trouble areas - shoulders, upper back, low back and hips. We do this by using opposing force (just like in weight lifting). As you continue this practice, you create new neural pathways to these disconnected areas. You tell the brain it is okay to move this way and be in this position; you build muscle tissue to allow for more range of motion.

The end result? You move better and more easily. You have more stability and control. This will transfer into your life on a daily basis whether you are an avid hiker, gym goes, or just want to play with your kids.

I personally feel so strong now, more stable, more connected or able to connect with my muscles which is important to me for more effective workouts and strength gains. It makes lifting all the more interesting to me.

Ultimately, I have more tools in my box to help correct issues from my long time lash career. Hips bothering me? Plop down and do some 90/90s and Hip Flexor PAIL/RAILs. Butt feeling sleepy and numb? I’ve got a number of ways to get connected and strengthen. These body weight movements can be done anytime. I incorporate them into my lifting sessions and practice outside of the gym as well.

I still stretch and from time to time use a lacrosse ball for myofascial release. I get massages semi-regularly. But most of all I use strength and mobility training to keep me feeling and moving well. I wish I had known more years ago!

Rather than just going through the motions and suffering from what pains you, you can actually help yourself and improve along the way. Even if you already work out consistently, there are ways to help you get more out of your sessions and relief to your body.

If you want to chat about burnout, your aches and pains, mobility, lifting, lashes...I'd love to hear from you. Send me an email at

If you want to learn how you can benefit from a strength and mobility coaching program, join my new Foxie Fit Strong program.

Thanks for reading,




© 2018 By Abby O'Sullivan. 

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