Why I attended a massage course this fall – and how it helps me become a better professional

Earlier this fall I attended a two-day massage course together with my mother at Axelsons in Stockholm. Apart from being a great opportunity to spend some quality time together, I’ve also felt an urge to learn more about wellness lately. I’ve always been fascinated by the way that massage therapists, yoga teachers and other people from the wellness industry view life – how positive and genuine they are. So apart from learning a new skill, my aim with attending the course was also to gain more of this positive perspective.

I had an interesting discussion with Markus Christiansson at Arbetsförmedlingen (Swedish public employment office) the other day, about the future of work. How the rise of automatization, machine learning and AI will replace jobs, but also why that is not a problem.

According to Economic Forum, 5 million jobs will be replaced within the next 5 years by artificial intelligence, robotics and other technology changes. A lot of manual work will be replaced by robots.

Markus Christiansson pointed out that within a near future, the whole workforce will need to make a transition from traditional production to become creators. Or as my father would put it, people will need to step up and become processes - creating forces.

We’ll see more self-employed people. And we’ll see more collaborations across industries, professional roles and demographics. No more 10 advertising guys with matching suits and glasses deciding on the next advertising campaign. Instead, we’ll see more interdisciplinary collaborations – companies inviting people to co-create together with them. A construction worker, doctor, PR consultant and teacher being handed a problem by a company and asked to solve it together. Hackathons will be more common. As will inter-department collaborations at companies.

With this new rise of tech, robotics and automation – we are given more time to be creative. We are given more time to be humans instead of manual machines.

Soft values and personal skills will therefore become more important. If you are good at knitting, playing music or writing poems; maybe you have a black belt in karate? Those skills will be assets that contribute with a new perspective to a project. They will be viewed as valued skills in professional scenes. [Read full interview with Markus Christiansson in Swedish here: Vad händer när allt fler väljer att starta eget?]massage_axelsons

As for health and wellness, studies show that massage can help improve the immune system and help people better cope with depression. Massage therapy also helps with stress release, tension, headaches and muscle pain.

Having spent two days observing and learning the basics of massage, I feel I now better understand the science and the real effect a massage session can give. Even if it is something as simple as giving an older relative a soft massage when you meet them, or giving your colleague a quick bag rub when they’ve sat in front of the computer too long and feel tense. The connecting power of just simple touch.

For me as a communications consultant, I often strive to connect with people at a more in-depth level. In projects, I chose to be personally engaged in the other people around me because I believe that makes me a better team player, and when applicable, also a better leader. Maybe going forward, the wellness perspective can help me take that one step further.

The basics of massage is one new skill that I am happy to have picked up. Partially because I was interested to learn more about massage, and because I work with several clients within this industry of whom I now get a deeper understanding. But also because I believe that all new skills we learn somehow contribute to our general perspective of life. This massage course was one example of that, the coding course I attended in Barcelona this September another.

On that note, I urge you all to pick up a new skill or two in 2017, be it professional or more personal. Let’s continue to learn and develop ourselves to gain more perspectives and understanding of the world around us, and the people in it.

[On a side note, if you haven’t already, check out for amazing free high-resolution photos from talented photographers. The one above by Erol Ahmed.]

Emelie Fågelstedt

Independent communications strategist supporting organizations with their digital business and communications strategy since 2010. Founder of digital agency Fågelstedt Kommunikation and co-founder of Svenska Nomader, Sweden's largest platform for digital nomads. Public speaker on tech, social media, e-commerce and the future of work.

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